I am not a really good teacher. But I would like to be. That is why I study a lot. Recently I read two books which tried to sum up what the scientists know about teaching and learning. The first one is called What Does This Look Like In The Classroom?: Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice by Carl Hendrick and the other is Make It Stick by Peter C. Brown. In both books I tried to find the things that I should do to help my students learn better. And here I would love to share what I have found.(more…)
At Christmas I got and read a book by Christian Ankowitsch called Warum Einstein niemals Socken trug (Why Einstein Never Wore Socks). The author collects all the pieces of research that show how our physical behaviour influences our thinking. There are many interesting facts that you may find useful in your daily life. But can it help my students?
<!– wp:more –>
Yes, it can. If students do some things, they will boost their learning. So I noted down all the ideas to apply at school and I would like to share them here with you.
How can you be a better teacher? You should study, take a lot of courses and work hard. Sure. But actually, there are a few simple things you can do right now!!!
First, stand straight and tall, and your students will respect you more. They will listen and they will not disturb so much.
Second, keep your classroom tidy and cosy and your students will behave better. Moreover, if you add a pleasant smell that students associate with cleanliness, they will cause fewer problems.
Third, smile and the world smiles with you. Activate the muscles that you use for smiling and you will feel better. And it works for your students too. Make them smile, and they will feel better in your classes. For example, you could ask them to take a pencil into their teeth in such a way that their lips do not touch it. Then they can look around and they will feel better. Curiously, people feel actually better just by activating facial muscles.
Fourth, do you want your students to listen to you? Make them lean forward and spread their arms. People simply take in more if they are in this open position. On the other hand, if they lean back and cross their arms in front of them, you just waste your time. They are closed and the amount of information they receive is small.
Do you teach a foreign language? Use a lot of gestures and pronounce clearly. Let your students use gestures. However, be careful to use appropriate gestures. If you use unsuitable moves, your students will be confused.
Most important things shall be placed in the middle of your lessons. If a lesson is 45 minutes long, students remember best all the things that happened between the 15th and 30th minute. Unfortunately, they do not remember much from the beginning of a lesson, so use this part of revision.
To improve your students listening skills, allow them to doodle. Those who doodle listen better.
Let your students chew a chewing gum! Really! But never during a lesson. If they chew five minutes before the lesson starts, their thinking process will improve and they will concentrate more.
Do not allow your students to throw away their notes from a lesson. If they do, their mind will discard the information they learnt, too. In my classes, students often leave their exercise books at home, and they write on a piece of paper. Then they leave the paper behind and their knowledge with it. I will not allow this again! We remember what we write down and carry away.
When you want your students to learn by heart, ask them to hold something in their right hand. A paper tissue is a good solution. They can make a ball out of it. Through this, they will remember the things they learn more easily. And when the students are tested, they should hold something in their left hand. Then the brain retrieves the information more easily.
And last but not least, do not let your students sit at the back of your classroom. Students who sit at the back, get worse scores in their tests. If you seat a bad student in the middle of the classroom or at the front, chances are, that his performance will improve.
A few more facts
Have you ever heard about “clothed cognition”? Do not worry. I haven´t heard about it either. But this says that students behave differently if the clothes they wear are associated with a certain behaviour. For example, a young boy wearing his favourite Superman T-shirt. will get a higher score in his test than normally. Students wearing clothes doctors usually wear, will give their work more attention.
Singers are better at languages than others. Singing activates the same parts of the brain that are necessary for learning a language. And the active brain is the learning brain.
Do you believe that if you ventilate your aggression, you will calm down and behave better the next time? NO! On the contrary. If you do not regulate your behaviour it will be worse the next time.
And it might be a good idea to teach vocabulary in a gym. Students riding a bicycle trainer learnt more words than those sitting in a classroom.
The facts above are in the book Why Einstein Never Wore Socks. There are many more facts in this book, but these are not that easy to apply to a classroom. I can certainly recommend this book.