Teaching is a complex process of helping people get knowledge and assessing this knowledge to let them make progress. When we are in school, it seems so natural that a teacher explains us the basics of chemistry and geometry, and every day we learn more details and every year assignments get more and more difficult. As students, all we care about is our participation and grades. Some teachers are our favorite because we find their classes more entertaining and interesting. However, we never really think how teachers manage to design their classes in such an engaging way. In fact, there are a number of traditional teaching methods that teachers need to apply to organize their class. Classes are organized in three different ways: teachers can deliver lectures; they can introduce a new subject with the help of demonstration; and they can also design their class based on the principle of collaboration.
Lecturing is the standard method in most schools because it is the best way to deliver information to students. Certainly, textbooks exist, and students can learn all the necessary information from them, but the reality is that teachers guide us and clarify things that might be difficult for learners. In a lot of colleges and universities the size of classes does not allow teachers to have an individual approach to everybody, this is why lecturing is so good for the purpose of explaining new material. However, the concept of ‘lecture’ is under attack these days because it is considered to be less effective than working in groups, for example. Nevertheless, it is an integral part of any school and it will always be there.
There are many classes where lecture is not enough to capture the essence of the subject. Science classes, for instance, operate with such abstract notions that it is crucial to show how different phenomena and processes take place in real life. In a physics or chemistry class teachers always demonstrate various processes through experiments. Thus, students can visualize these processes and perceive them as something very real and not just abstract. In a law class it is also important to use real life cases as examples and let students analyze them. Teachers always tend to let learners apply their knowledge and skills in practice.
Today collaboration is considered extremely important in education because students acquire teamwork and leadership skills. This method is effective indeed because it lets students look deeper into the subject matter, express their own opinion, and listen to others’ opinion as well. In the process of collaboration students become actively involved into the learning process, and quite often they perform not only as learners but also as teachers when they help their fellow students solve some academic problems. Today, however, teachers are looking for new ways of teaching that could make the learning process easier and more enjoyable. According to Getting Smart, a learning design firm, there are three new highly effective teaching strategies that help student memorize things faster and get better grades. The first strategy is Spaced Learning: in this method teaching new content lasts for ten minutes and is followed by a ten minute physical activity. This pattern is repeated three times. For instance, a teacher is delivering a small lecture for ten minutes, and then students go and play soccer for then more minutes, After that they go back to class. It is said that such an approach makes it easier for students to perceive new information and memorize it because it lets learners relax.
Another innovation is called Flexible Fridays. This is a very interesting idea. Flexible Fridays allow each student to spend the entire day working on a single subject he/she has difficulties with. Teachers can pay attention to every student and answer all their questions about the problematic subject. This means that students do not need to spend hours struggling with the subject on their own at home. The third new teaching model is called Engagement. This method is designed in such a way that students are actively involved into real life experience in different spheres – economical, social, etc. Teachers do not simply deliver new information – they show students how knowledge is applied in practice in various companies. When students see how the material they are learning is connected to real world, it is easier to them to study because everything starts to make sense.
Teachers always need to decide what kind of strategy will work better for his/her students because each new class is unique and has different strength and weaknesses. The best way to achieve great results is to combine various teaching methods because all of them serve to reach certain goals. Long lectures can be boring without cooperation, whereas demonstration through experiments is not effective without explaining how certain processes can happen. This is why some teachers are so successful: they can find the necessary balance between different teaching strategies and make student constantly involved into the learning process. We encourage teachers to establish contacts with their students and to always ask questions and see what is clear and what still needs to be improved. Quite often students have particular needs but they cannot share it with their teacher because the teacher has too authoritative style. Try to make your class engaging and informative and your students will get extremely inspired and will enjoy it.