What\’s the simplest, least expensive way to improve learning in children? Here are three such. They cost you no money, and are entirely in your control. They do involve technique, but not technology. However, they don’t involve working extra hard (just changing what you do, slightly).
1. Smile more!
This has to be the least expensive and most effective. Smile. Look at children and smile a happy smile. You’re lucky to be with them. And smile the one that glows in your eyes – all children have an inbuilt ability to know when you’re only pretending.
And what should you do after smiling? Well, nothing special, just keep on doing whatever you were doing – teaching or taking children out or organizing the morning assembly or the mid-day meal or asking them to come back into the class. Smile.
And let me know after three months about the improved learning in your classroom. As they say, you need neither money nor orders to do this.
2. Talk with children. And listen more
We have so much to tell children – instructions, information, questions, answers. But all this is not equal to talking with children. Real conversation requires taking an interest in the lives of your students, interacting with them about things that matter to them, and above all – listening to them. If you are the kind of teacher that children can relate with and say what is in their minds, you’re well on your way to improving learning in the classroom.
3. Ask yourself what you would like if you were the child in front of you
We were all born as babies and spent a fair amount of time as children. Unfortunately, we grew up and became adults. We forgot that delight which gripped us when something new or challenging or interesting was put before us. We lost track of that person in us who would not give up something engaging, no matter what. And of course we fail to recall how much we enjoyed learning something, especially when we did it on our own, whether it was cycling or reading a book to figure something out or in the sports field.
Now that you’re a teacher, it will really help if for a moment you put yourself in your students’ place. What would you really enjoy being engaged in most? What way of presenting or unfolding the learning objective under consideration be most involving? How could you get children themselves to do and think more?
This is neither as difficult or crazy as it sounds. In fact, it’s much simpler than taking the usual role of doing all the work yourself – explaining, showing a picture, using the blackboard, thinking of examples to give – while children are simply sitting around watching you! In fact, this is also what you are supposed to do – i.e. use activity, exploration, projects and other similar means.
How difficult is that? Not so difficult that it can’t be done. There are many, many sources for you to draw upon, as there are many in-service training and materials available for you. And just in case there aren’t, do let me know.
In the meantime, I hope you’ll make vigorous use of these three simplest, least expensive methods – and really boost learning among your children.