As follow-up to my previous posting, I’d like to share ways to keep the students on task. I’ve come up with four. Can you add one or two more?
- Vary the pace. Think of a lesson as a good workout on the exercise bike or treadmill. You need to establish a moderate pace that everyone is comfortable with, but you also need moments of acceleration that really test their limits. Staying at one pace for a long duration risks losing students who are either overwhelmed or not challenged. Keep them on their toes by varying the pace of your lesson, but do so while being in tune with their needs.
- Move. Be expressive and use facial and hand gestures during your explanations. During exercises, don’t be a flower sitting in a pot or a tree with roots firmly in the ground. Use your movement around the classroom to monitor their work and keep them on task.
- Make sure all tasks are meaningful. Choose and design exercises that have a meaningful context. A good textbook should do this for you, but some books don’t fully rise to the challenge because the context chosen is either dry or hard for the given group of students to relate to. Then it’s up to you to generate interest in the theme of the exercise or modify the exercise to make it more meaningful.
- Offer support and praise. This is such simple advice, but it’s worth mentioning so that it’s not forgotten. When a task is difficult, provide aids and guidance as needed. When tasks are completed, give brief but genuine compliments on a job well done.