When it comes to keeping students interested, many teachers often feel like they are shooting arrows in the dark. Sometimes the class will seem completely enthralled by your lessons, and other times they will appear as if they would rather be anywhere in the world but where they are. The worst part about it is that you are often unsure as to what makes the difference, and you probably feel like asking your students for the answers would be like a doctor asking a patient what they thought their diagnosis might be.
Don’t worry; you don’t have to risk losing your students’ respect to find the answers. According to modern, scholarly research, the primary difference between a bored class and an engrossed class lies in how creative the teaching techniques are. It is critically important to keep the material interesting and to make it applicable to everyday life. In order to truly learn the materials (as opposed to merely memorizing them), students must be involved in interesting, interactive and applicable activities.
Anyone can stand up and lecture about the writings of Edgar Allan Poe, and then give students a multiple choice test to determine what they have superficially retained. However class discussions, creative writing assignments and imaginative activities are far more influential to the learning process and have much longer lasting effects. A student could easily forget the subtle details of The Masque of the Red Death after simply reading it or hearing about it from their teacher. But what student could possibly forget the experience of turning the classroom into a costume ball and playing out the critical parts of the story in full dress?
The integration of technology and visual aids into the teaching process can also make a significant difference in how enthusiastic students are about learning. And of course, the more enthusiastic they are, the more likely they are to absorb the materials you are trying to teach them, instead of just letting them hang out in their brain long enough to pass a test.
Another important item to consider in developing a creative teaching environment is to introduce students to an array of lessons, and approaches to lessons, that will meet their diverse needs. While it is impossible to tailor lessons directly to specific class members, it is definitely possible to create innovative curricula that addresses cultural diversity and other differences.
You will also keep your class interested in learning by building on their current knowledge, using analogies and scenarios that they can relate to, and promoting critical reflection. The key is to keep things fun, exciting and innovative, while still managing to impart the pertinent information that your students need to learn.