1. To get the most out of your students, it is important that you get the most out of yourself first. You can do this by modelling high standards in your lesson preparation. Employ a variety of strategies: (a) use different resources, (b) allow students to work in pairs, groups or individually, (c) add movement and music to embed learning concepts, (d) teach whole class, small groups and individually, (e) video yourself teaching so students can easily access instruction, (f) use peer teaching, students running activities and students as experts.
2. Make the learning meaningful and relevant by linking it to students’ interests, goals and backgrounds. Use metaphors and stories to bring the content to life. Conveying your passion for the subject to the students will bring it to life for them.
3. Believe in your students and communicate this to them. Help them develop a growth mindset by praising effort rather than ability, and valuing persistence rather than perfection.
4. Have high expectations for your students. Carol Dweck (Mindset) says we shouldn’t be limiting our students with low level expectations. She refers to a teacher in the Chicago who took inner city students with low level skills and transformed their reading. She had students as young as 7 years of age able to discuss Shakespeare!
5. Ask yourself better questions when students fail. Don’t ask ‘why haven’t they learnt this yet?’ but ‘how can I help them learn this?’ Ask yourself what you can do differently that will make the learning accessible?
6. Give students autonomy. Dan Pink (Drive – The surprising truth about what motivates us) talks about autonomy as one of the prime motivators for all people. Give students a voice in the way the classroom is run; what, with whom and how they work and learn (procedural choice- where I sit, what group I am in and cognitive choice- effective ways for me to learn, goal setting (set goals, look at them, redo goals)
7. Give students responsibility. Shawn Achor (The Happiness Advantage) tells of a study of the elderly in which people who were given a plant to care for, to be responsible for, gained a new lease on life and were more motivated to participate in other activities. The same concept can be replicated in the classroom, particularly for the more disengaged students. A Year 8 boy who was continually disruptive and at risk of dropping out of school, was given a leadership role by one of his teachers in an attempt to re-engage him. He surprised everyone by stepping up to the responsibility and turning his whole attitude around. Here is Shawn’s Ted talk: