For many teachers, having a classroom full of engaged students who all feel challenged can seem like a pipe dream – especially when time and resources are limited. While it may be impractical to provide each student with a personalized learning experience, you can increase your reach by understanding your students’ abilities, motivations and roadblocks and designing lesson plans around them. Here are five tips to bolster interest, improve retention of information and strengthen rapport with your students.
- Mix it up. Use a combination of delivery methods (lectures, text, videos, quizzes and group activities) to ensure each lesson appeals to auditory, visual and kinesthetic learners. To get an idea of your classroom’s preferences, survey your students early on and after lessons to see what’s working and what you can eliminate or use less of. If you have the option of using laptops or smartphones, you can even use an online polling tool, such as Mentimeter, to get feedback in real time. If not, save a few minutes to ask your students during class or have them write it down on paper and drop it into a box on their way out the door. No matter the method, your students will appreciate the variety and ability to influence their learning path.
- Make it relatable. Putting the content in the context of real life can help students see it from a different vantage point and thus improve understanding. Whenever possible, use storytelling, familiar analogies or pop culture to help the material stick. News articles, historical events and even local CPAs are all great sources to draw from. If you’d like to incorporate a more playful approach, hold a contest where students come up with their own accounting jokes or memes and vote on their favorites, then hang them on the wall afterward to show off their creativity.
- Flip your classroom. Some schools have found success by “flipping” their classrooms, i.e., switching up how a student’s time is traditionally spent with their teacher. With this model, lessons are taught at home through recorded videos and face-to-face interactions in the classroom are reserved for practice exercises. This setup allows for more organic discussions with your students. This also gives them the opportunity to ask questions and work through problems they may have gotten stuck on at home without the support of their teacher and peers. (If you do consider this model, make sure your students have the technology they need to access the recordings after class).
- Make a personal connection. Getting to know your students as individuals not only establishes credibility and trust, it also provides valuable insight that can guide your teaching. Chat with your students about how they’re feeling in class, what they loved and what they didn’t really understand, then use that information to tweak future lessons. Getting their feedback in a more candid fashion may also present an opportunity to collaborate with them on goals and assignments that’ll increase their comprehension.
- Provide options. Typical classrooms include students of varying comprehension and skill levels, which means they need varying levels of support and practice. To keep gifted students from getting bored and struggling students from being left behind, create multiple assignment options so students can choose something that aligns with their skills and interests. You can ensure that students don’t just choose the “easiest” option by requiring similar levels of effort for each task and providing clear learning objectives.
Though students are at the heart of every lesson plan, not every lesson plan is created equal. Incorporating more collaborative, creative and intentional methods into your teaching will not only enhance your students’ classroom experience but can also offer you the satisfaction knowing your pupils are truly grasping – and enjoying – their newfound knowledge.