Saturday, April 25, 2009

Effective teaching: Make your teaching more interesting and enjoyable

Students usually learn best when they're motivated. Although you can't make someone learn, you can create an environment that supports and encourages learning success. Use an effective teaching style that allows people to participate in their learning. Find ways to emphasize the benefits of learning new skills, and make learning relevant to people's jobs. Encourage them to take control of their own learning, and allow them to set their own objectives. The more you develop motivation to learn, the more successful you'll probably be. Start today to recognize the value of learning, and see the many learning opportunities around you!

As well as increasing the motivation to learn, there are many ways to make your teaching sessions more interesting and enjoyable. These ideas can be used for formal lessons, or for spontaneous learning opportunities that present themselves.

You can help the learning process by doing the following:
  • Use pre-instruction questions - These can get students to think about why they should be learning this new skill, as well as to appreciate the benefits of learning.

  • Use conceptual models - These are often a useful way for helping students to store and retrieve information. Mental models (which can be in the form of diagrams and charts) are often helpful for learning the details of a lesson.

  • Vary the learning material - This will help you deal with the different ways in which people learn. You can vary your material for different learning styles as follows:

    • Visual Learners - Charts, graphs, or images are useful for representing the information being conveyed, as well as information in books or reports.

    • Auditory Learners - Lectures, presentations, and group discussions help auditory learners 'talk through' what's being presented.

    • Kinesthetic Learners - These learners like hands-on practice that's either real or simulated.

    We all have our own preferred learning styles. If you provide as many different learning experiences as sensibly possible, you'll be more likely to connect with each learner.

  • Group students together - Encourage learning and understanding by having students work together while learning the same skills. By helping one another, they can all reinforce what they're learning. Everyone in the group will then benefit from the strengths of the individual members.

  • Provide opportunities for reflection and thinking - Learning journals are a popular and effective way for people to write down their thoughts about how the learning process itself has been helpful to their overall development.

  • Actively review the lesson at the end - What progress did the students make, and what difficulties did they encounter? By revisiting the lesson, you have an opportunity to learn from the experience yourself - and hopefully figure out how to improve the content or approach next time. Reviews also give students opportunities to analyze their performance, and increase their commitment to continuous learning.

  • Use all of your emotional intelligence and communication skills - This means establishing a connection with students, listening actively, using empathy where appropriate, being patient, and showing genuine interest in the students and in your teaching. Your attitude toward learning has a huge impact on the learners' attitudes, so make sure you're a good role model for continuous, active learning.

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