The classroom is a dynamic environment, bringing together students from different backgrounds with various abilities and personalities. Being an effective teacher, therefore, requires the implementation of creative and innovative teaching strategies in order to meet students’ individual needs.
Whether you’ve been teaching for two months or twenty years, it can be difficult to know which teaching strategies will work best with your students. As a teacher there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, so here is a range of effective teaching strategies you can use to inspire your classroom practice.
Bring dull academic concepts to life with visual and practical learning experiences, helping your students to understand how their schooling applies in the real world.
Examples include using the interactive whiteboard to display photos, audio clips, and videos, as well as encouraging your students to get out of their seats with classroom experiments and local field trips.
2. Cooperative learning
Encourage students of mixed abilities to work together by promoting small group or whole class activities.
Through verbally expressing their ideas and responding to others your students will develop their self-confidence, as well as enhance their communication and critical thinking skills which are vital throughout life.
Solving mathematical puzzles, conducting scientific experiments and acting out short drama sketches are just a few examples of how cooperative learning can be incorporated into classroom lessons.
3. Inquiry-based instruction
Pose thought-provoking questions which inspire your students to think for themselves and become more independent learners.
Encouraging students to ask questions and investigate their own ideas helps improve their problem-solving skills as well as gain a deeper understanding of academic concepts. Both of which are important life skills.
Inquiries can be science or math-based such as ‘why does my shadow change size?’ or ‘is the sum of two odd numbers always an even number?’. However, they can also be subjective and encourage students to express their unique views, e.g. ‘do poems have to rhyme?’ or ‘should all students wear uniforms?’.
Differentiate your teaching by allocating tasks based on students’ abilities, to ensure no one gets left behind.
Assigning classroom activities according to students’ unique learning needs means individuals with higher academic capabilities are stretched and those who are struggling get the appropriate support.
This can involve handing out worksheets that vary in complexity to different groups of students or setting up a range of workstations around the classroom which contain an assortment of tasks for students to choose from.
Moreover, using an educational tool such as Quizalize can save you hours of time because it automatically groups your students for you, so you can easily identify individual and whole-class learning gaps.
5. Technology in the classroom
Incorporating technology into your teaching is a great way to actively engage your students, especially as digital media surrounds young people in the 21st century.
Interactive whiteboards or mobile devices can be used to display images and videos, which helps students visualize new academic concepts. Learning can become more interactive when technology is used as students can physically engage during lessons as well as instantly research their ideas, which develops autonomy.
Mobile devices, such as iPads and/or tablets, can be used in the classroom for students to record results, take photos/videos, or simply as a behavior management technique. Plus, incorporating educational programmes such as Quizalize into your lesson plans is also a great way to make formative assessments fun and engaging.
6. Behaviour management
Implementing an effective behavior management strategy is crucial to gain your students’ respect and ensure students have an equal chance of reaching their full potential.
Noisy, disruptive classrooms do not encourage a productive learning environment, therefore developing an atmosphere of mutual respect through a combination of discipline and reward can be beneficial for both you and your students.
Examples include fun and interactive reward charts for younger students, where individuals move up or down based on behavior with the top student receiving a prize at the end of the week. ‘Golden time’ can also work for students of all ages, with a choice of various activities such as games or no homework in reward for their hard work.
7. Professional development
Engaging in regular professional development programmes is a great way to enhance teaching and learning in your classroom.
With educational policies constantly changing it is extremely useful to attend events where you can gain inspiration from other teachers and academics. It’s also a great excuse to get out of the classroom and work alongside other teachers just like you!
Sessions can include learning about new educational technologies, online safety training, advice on how to use your teaching assistant(s), and much more.
Being an effective teacher is a challenge because every student is unique, however, by using a combination of teaching strategies you can address students’ varying learning styles and academic capabilities as well as make your classroom a dynamic and motivational environment for students.