Whose Class Is It, Anyway? Motivation in the Classroom

28 11 2011

From Education Illustated

As a teacher , don’t you simply LOVE staff development workshops? Some people do, and many people actually loathe such events! It is probably not because those educators do not want to learn new techniques or increase the effectiveness of their instruction. There is likely a valid educational reason why these workshops may not be enjoyed by many teachers.

For instance, think about the role of the educator from day to day. The bell rings?the door closes?and they are in charge of the room for the entire day. In fact, they must be in charge for things to run smoothly and properly facilitate learning. When you walk into an inservice, someone else is suddenly taking control of your day. That is often not a comfortable transition.

If the facilitator of the staff development were to give you some say in how things were run, you might feel more comfortable. The same is true with students in the classroom. Nobody wants to be told what to do all the time. Are there times where the teacher must decide what happens in the classroom and when? Yes, absolutely! It is worth exploring, however, how you can effectively transfer some ownership of what is happening to the students. This tip will do exactly that…it will provide you with a starter list of places and ways you can give learners some ownership in the learning environment. We hope this list will get you thinking and encourage you to experiment. You just might be surprised at the difference in classroom management difficulties as well as the increased level of participation!

Twenty ways to transfer ownership to learners:

1. Give learners a choice on the length of a break

2. Provide a bank of homework or test problems and let the learners choose which to complete

3. Occasionally allow learners to choose their groups

4. Provide a list of assignments to pick from

5. Provide a list of project or discussion topics to pick from

6. Show the planned activities for the day and let learners vote on the order they will take place

7. Freedom of choice in the seating arrangement

8. Ask learners to help plan a sequence of lessons and activities

9. Let the learners have a choice in HOW to respond to some questions, skit, paper, presentation, etc…

10. Let some learners present material with which they are comfortable

11. Give the learners a chance to “personalize” materials by doodling, drawing on, or decorating

12. Let learners present a review lesson for learners who were previously absent

13. Provide time for learners to produce and choose where to hang visual materials in the classroom

14. Let learners arrange the room

15. If the learners had been talking in groups about a list of terms, for instance, let them choose what order to discuss them

16. Provide multiple strategies to solve a problem or handle a situation and let the learners choose which to use. Better yet, encourage the learners to create their own solutions!

17. Ask learners how many evenings they think they need to complete an assignment and honor it as the due date

18. In advance, let learners help plan how an assignment will be assessed

19. Be frank and TELL the learners that you would like to provide them with some ownership, then…

20. Ask the learners how you could help provide more ownership in the classroom!

You may be surprised at the power of some of these techniques!

Some of these techniques require careful facilitation on the part of teacher but they are well worth the effort. One of our favorite quotes is:

“Don’t let your ability to CONTROL a class overcome your ability to TEACH the class!”

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