Staying Motivated

In the modern classroom, there are endless tools, tricks, and strategies available to enhance the learning experience for students.  However, the less-asked question remains: who keeps the teacher motivated?  Teaching is a demanding, high-energy job, no matter the grade or subject.  Here are a few ways you can stay motivated in the classroom, especially as we embark upon the short-attention-span-long-vacation holiday season.

Teacher

 

Keep it Meaningful, To You and to Them

Yes, it’s important to keep up with content necessary to advance your students to the next grade, or pass the next cumulative review.  But it is just as valuable to present them material to which they feel a connection.  When I was in third grade, my teacher brought in a picture of her standing on The Four Corners when teaching us United States geography.  Ever since, I’ve loved learning about the fifty states, and I still remember that moment – I have yet to get to The Four Corners, but it’s a goal!

I now teach music, and I enjoy watching students learn pieces I liked playing at their age; it’s remarkable how they tend to like those pieces, too.  It creates a special teacher-student bond.  The timelessness of Beethoven’s Für Elise certainly doesn’t hurt, either.

If your students see that a topic resonates with their teacher, they draw parallels to it to their own lives.  Teaching about things as light as honeybees or as intense as Anne Frank’s biography, students connect if they sense their teacher is also engaged, and if they seem to enjoy what they’re teaching.  Bridge the gap between required content and special, creative topics, and see your students interact.

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Make Personal Connections – Learn About Your Students

It can be as simple as asking them each what they did over the weekend, or greeting them at the classroom door, but children want to feel accepted and included.  This remains true for the majority of their school experience, as they strive for understanding amongst their teachers and peers.  Keeping up on their progress and remaining available and open for questions and help gives students a “comfort zone” to learn more in a safe, judgment-free way.  Find something unique in each kid, allow them to be individuals, and they will likely be more active, thoughtful class participants.

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Set Goals

Write them in a list, or put them in your calendar – envision what you want to carry out within the span of a school year.  The day-to-day of classroom life can start to feel like a grind, but by setting small – and large – goals, you are nudging yourself in the right direction.  Continuing to make small changes and work toward larger initiatives expands your reach as a teacher, but also improves the quality of your classroom for both you and your students.  Start small, and make the goals reasonable, so it doesn’t get overwhelming.  It’s surprising and heartening to go back and see what you’ve accomplished after just a few months!

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Remember What Brought You Here

This one might be a bit sentimental, but remember back to what you loved about school as a child.  A certain teacher, a specific class – it’s different for everyone.  Whatever your answer, that thing, at least in part, is probably what led you down the path to teaching.  It was a motivation.  Further, remember what things your teachers may have done that made their classrooms a lively, interesting space.  Sometimes, reminiscing about that feeling or that time is all it takes to put things into perspective.  Teaching is a calling, and a noble one at that.  Never lose sight of the impact you can make on another generation of learners.

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The Importance of Cultural Inclusivity in the Classroom and Beyond

Our world is an ever-evolving place, and the classroom is no exception.  With various ethnicities in any one class, language barriers come to exist, as students struggle to stay abreast of assignments and new concepts.  More than differences in language are cultural disparities.  However, diversity doesn’t have to be viewed as an obstacle; it can and should be acknowledged by teachers as they encourage students to embrace it, regardless of age bracket or location.

Studies show that students learn more effectively when they feel included.  Teachers are the foremost entity to establish this inclusivity.  It is their responsibility to familiarize themselves with the cultural differences that may exist within their class, and maintain a sensitivity to them.  As noted by Timmons-Brown and Warner in their article on culture in math pedagogy:

Culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP) has the potential to empower students’ learning and to generate high levels of success among racially and ethnically diverse student populations.

The thought process extends far beyond mathematics, as students begin to understand and value the points of view of their peers.  They are more motivated to do their best when they feel comfortable expressing their opinions, and feel they are viewed as equal amongst their classmates.  Intrinsic motivation is key to student success in any classroom.

Classrooms can be made more culturally relevant with relative ease.  Including content in lessons from multiethnic public figures, career-people, and historical figures – just to name a few – subtly diversifies the classroom, allowing students to understand and appreciate the capabilities and accomplishments of all cultures.

Subsequent open-mindedness of different cultures follows students long after school ends and into their careers, a powerful asset to possess in the modern workplace.

Genius Plaza aims to maintain cultural relevance in all our lessons, communication, and professional development sessions for teachers.  We recognize the necessity of this in all facets of education, from content creation in our diverse offices, to content presentation and use in schools everywhere.  

Cultural relevance stems from the individual, but spans further, leading to social responsibility and societal understanding.  It is a must in education, and in the world overall.


The Impact of Curiosity on Learning

In his article The 5th C? Curiosity, Questions, and the 4 Cs, Andrew Minigan seeks to add a fifth “C” to Framework for 21st Century Learning’s four existing Cs: creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration.  That fifth C is curiosity.

via GIPHY

As he mentions,

Asking questions is not simply a means to gather information. Rather, by asking questions, students can identify their own knowledge gaps and think critically about what they are learning, assess information from individuals and other sources of information, think creatively and divergently, and work constructively with others.”

Though the modern school spends a great deal of time on results-based lessons, learning the value of asking questions and maintaining curiosity is invaluable far beyond the classroom.  Teachers – with a bit of creativity – can work to implement asking questions in their classrooms, thus encouraging students to challenge themselves to learn more.

At Genius Plaza, our didactic method of “Learn – Reflect – Re-teach – Peer Review” perpetuates the importance of curiosity in learning.  How do we do this?

Genius Plaza eBooks

Learn: students learn a concept using various Learning Objects, including eBooks, vocabulary sets, videos, comprehension exercises, and worksheets.

Reflect: students think back on what they’ve learned, and ask questions about things they don’t understand.  They can also comment and ask questions on one another’s work.

Re-teach: once a student has mastered a concept, they reteach it to other students using authoring tools, using their own creativity to create eBooks, games, and more.

Peer review: students comment on each other’s co-creations, and have yet another opportunity not only to repeat the concept, but ask more questions.

Didactic Method

Genius Plaza’s didactic method allows for creativity and critical thinking, with curiosity remaining at the forefront.  Consistent questioning and the possibility of learning more keeps students engaged throughout the lesson, no matter the concept, and continuously engaged in their own learning journeys.

It is the hope of Genius Plaza and educators everywhere that by remaining curious, students determine what they still have to learn, what they can do to strengthen their abilities, and, most importantly, how they can develop into lifelong learners.