Be the Authority! 5 Tips for Improving Engagement and Learning
Ownership of learning is an important part of engagement. Students who take ownership and pride in their learning will be more engaged in the process and walk away from their work having learned more. I try to impress upon my high school psychology students that anyone who visits our class (administrators) should be able to learn something from listening to them (students). The students believe that this is a possibility since the psychology classes I teach are electives rather than courses that everyone takes by default. I want the students to take pride in their work and approach the content as if they are the authorities on the topic because they are as far as our class is concerned. I have had discussions with some teachers who debate whether teaching should focus on content or skills. Why can’t we focus on both? If students are truly invested in their learning, then they can make tremendous gains in both content and skills. Learn the content while building the skills. Some thoughts that can guide this process:
- Take pride in your work: Students do not have to think they are experts. They do need to think that they are capable of being experts. Self-efficacy is an important part of academic success. Encourage them to take their learning to the next level and teach them the skill sets to do so.
- Walk the walk: I impress this on my methods students at the university level. They tend to start their sample lessons by requesting that the class bear with them during their presentation. Nobody wants to hear that they are about to be bored and have their time wasted. Be enthusiastic about your class, teaching, and subject! Take pride in what you are doing! Be excited! Use exclamation points!
- Be human: Don’t pretend to know something when you don’t. It is dishonest, and you can get caught at it. It is also an opportunity to model the inquiry process. Figure out the answer as a group.
- Be willing to learn: This one builds on the last item and the thought that some teachers can be intimidated by new technologies. If we never encountered anything unfamiliar to us, then we wouldn’t learn anything new. Let the students teach you also. Use your strengths. Address your weaknesses.
- Experiment (thoughtfully): Ok, lets keep building here. Try new things out and take risks. That does not mean you need to be a juggernaut of educational technology experimentation though. Glitches will happen in your teaching with or without technology, but approaching new things in a thoughtful and educated manner will help the process go smoothly.
Do you have any steps or tips to add? I would love to hear them in the comments below. Also, please be sure to like me on Facebook or follow on Twitter so you can see future blogs and other great edtech resources I share.