By Annabelle Fee

Getting students to sit down and prepare for class or an exam can be quite difficult. There are thousands of things students would rather do than study. But rather than to simply blame the students for their laziness or disinterest, it is far more productive to assess the methods used and see how to improve the relationship between students and education.


  • Interesting material


Materials matter. Often, it is hard for students to understand why they need to know certain information and what role could that possibly have in their lives. Learning is much more difficult when you see no point in it. A way to avoid this from happening is to use examples from real life rather than academic ones. This can be especially useful for getting more students understanding the point of science studies.

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  • Praise them


Make sure to tell them when do well in class or on a test. Write a positive note on their essay together with constructive criticism, it is important to include both for the best possible future results. Also, when writing words of praise, try to be specific with your praise, concentrating on the work rather than a student characteristic. E.g. ‘You have clear, strong arguments,’ is much better than ‘You are really smart.’ Here are some dos and don’ts.


  • Expect them to do well


Students can be very sensitive to expectations and if they think you don’t expect much from them, they can easily stop trying. Even worse, they can start believing they will never achieve anything more than their current level. Set up realistic expectations of level of improvement for each and every student and be sure to communicate it to the students. Tell them you know they can and will do better if they try. You can then offer them personalized advice on how to do it.


  • Enjoy what you do


Students notice when their teacher is not interested in the job they are doing and the teacher’s dislike for the class will be mirrored in the form of the response from students. It is understandable that after a while of teaching the same materials, you can get bored. You should try and mix up the materials for your own sake to keep things interesting. Furthermore, engaging students to actively participate in class should make each class unique and more interesting to all parties involved.


  • Make sure you teach for all learning styles


Different students have different learning styles. Some learn best by listening, others by reading or even watching videos, and then again some by doing things themselves. Try to incorporate all styles in your classes so that every student can get something useful out of it. For the best results, provide your students with a range of different materials for home study so they can use the ones they find most useful.

Hopefully, this will help with planning your classes, but make sure to keep on investigating because new studies emerge every day. Whether you work at school or offer private tuition, a teacher’s job is never done and a great teacher will keep up with new findings, wanting the best for their students. However, don’t forget to also talk to your students and ask them what could help them improve their performance. They often know the answer but feel it is inappropriate for them to speak on the topic. You can do a questionnaire for them to fulfil, and possibly it would be best to give it as an anonymous homework. It doesn’t hurt to try.

Annabelle is part of the Content and Community team at SmileTutor, sharing valuable content to their own community and beyond.

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