Previously I shared the “Five Things Teachers Do that Students Hate,” so now find out the “Five Things Teachers do that Students LOVE” (besides having breakfast with their teacher!).
In my last blog, I shared “Five Things Teachers Do that Students Hate,” so I felt it only fitting this week to present “Five Things Teachers Do that Students Love.” My students shared these tips with me at the end of the last school year, and I think you’ll find them as valuable as I did.
1. Open discussions – “I love a good class discussion, especially when we share our opinions and look at both sides of an argument.”
Over and over again, students stated that they loved having their voice heard in class. Open discussions allow for students to become more involved in the subject, and they help students understand and more deeply connect to content. Students are also able to hear different perspectives, and they learn how to back up their opinions with evidence – a most valuable skill. Harkness Table discussions need not be restricted to prep schools; they can work very well in our low-income, urban school classrooms.
2. Extra credit and retakes – “Having an opportunity to fix our mistakes and to understand where we went wrong is the true meaning of learning.”
Extra credit and retakes are hotly debated topics. Even in my own classroom, I am not so willing to provide extra credit when student haven’t done credit work. Revisions and retakes, however, can help students master material, and they can enable authentic learning to take place. Most importantly, they can provide students with hope and lessen resentment. Having clear-cut guidelines about retakes or revisions is most definitely necessary. In most cases, I recommend giving students an alternative version of the original assessment. Involving parents when a retake is necessary will also keep them aware of their child’s progress. But make sure to have time constraints on revisions and retakes or you will end up with thirty students in your room the day before marks close.
3. Projects with autonomy – “I love it when the teacher lets me pick my own topic for a project or s/he lets me choose a book for an assignment. I also love it when I can work with the people I choose.” We’ve heard this one before. Permitting students to take charge of their own learning is empowering, and it is what student-centered learning is all about. When students are motivated by their own interests and preferences, they are more likely to be engaged in their learning. Teachers should support student autonomy as best they can by providing students with choices with regard to assignments, time-related tasks, and partners. You can still have a well-structured classroom while giving students opportunities to direct and reflect on their own learning.
4. Treating us like adults (high school students) – “I have a job, I drive a car, I pay my bills. Now I just want my teachers to treat me like an adult.” What students meant in this case was they wanted classrooms where curiosity and creativity could thrive. They wanted to be able to learn by sharing and speaking out. They loved when teachers gave them the chance to demonstrate their commitment to learning by listening to student suggestions and contributions to the classroom, And, when it came to behavioral expectations, students cautioned that if teachers expected them to misbehave, they were more likely to do so. They appreciated teachers who set high expectations for behavior as well as academics, and if they felt their teachers trusted them, they were more likely to behave in a responsible manner.
5. Listening and trying to help – “When my teachers listen to me, I can tell they really care.” Teenagers can be needy. They’d suck up every minute of our time if we let them, but it is important that teachers listen to what their students have to say. Building relationships with students is a key component in creating a successful learning environment, and we can find out a great deal about what might be standing in the way of a student’s success if we listen. Sometimes a student may just need some guidance or a pep talk. Other times, the problem may be more serious, and you may need to connect the student to the appropriate administrator or building social worker. Taking time out to listen to your students will go a long way
So while you’re enjoying these last few days of summer vacation and preparing for back-to-school, be sure to include these tips in your teaching repertoire. Your students will love you for it!