I love when the new semester starts. Teaching is the only profession, where you can start fresh every quarter, even if the subjects you teach are only in your area of expertise, which is far from my case. This semester, I am delving into teaching finance, in addition to all the good stuff that I have tons of experience in.
Well, but there is something about the first week of classes. I think they set the tone for the entire semester. Your first impression and body language can king (lack of a better word) or kill you. I like my students to think of our "in class experience" as a roller coaster ride.
They get on it with a full understanding that it is a roller coaster, with many ups, downs, curves, bends and thrills. At the end of the term, most of my students agree that our time together was well spent, and it was probably one of the best classes they have had. Hence, I would like to share my secret on student engagement:
1. Tell a story -- When you tell a story, you become a real person to them. They identify with you.
2. Tell your expectations upfront -- Clarifying what you need from your students helps them to focus.
3. Flip your classroom -- For every other class, do flip assignments, where you ask them to present their thoughts on a certain aspect of the topic you are teaching.
4. Move Around -- Don't get stuck in the traditional classroom format of teaching. Be creative with the setup of the classroom. If weather permits, hold the class in the open, in the library, or at the cafeteria (only applicable for mature students).
5. Be Compassionate -- Understand that students have a variety of learning styles. Identify the strong students in your class, and then make them turn others into champions.
6. Be Open -- Keep lines of communication open. I generally tell my students, email me, I will answer as soon as I read or meet me by appointment.
7. Inculcate values -- Teachers are meant to shape the future of the world. Therefore, instill students with strong work ethics and values, which will be beneficial to them in the long run.
Finally, in my experience, the above practice builds a strong, life long bond between the students and their teacher. Therefore, as educators of this electronic century, we must try to tie the power of story telling, open communication, compassion and strong values to our doctrine of imparting education.