Gone are the days when teachers stood at the front of the class doling out their wisdom to rows and columns of students.
Today’s students are very different from those that sat in those desks so many years ago, and so our classrooms and teaching styles must advance as well. But if you’ve been in teaching for any length of time, catering to a postmodern classroom might not come naturally.
Here are some simple tips for getting you there.
Today’s students are very different from those that sat in those desks so many years ago
10 Tips for Making Your Classroom Work for Today’s Students
Make Your Classroom Student Centered
You can do several things to better suit your postmodern students in the classroom. One of the biggest yet easiest shifts is making your classroom student centered. In the past, the teacher stood at the front of the room and held the undivided attention of their students. The teacher was the focal point. These days, students should be the center of the classroom. That doesn’t mean that they stand up front and lecture you, but it does mean that your place as teacher may not always be at the front of the class. Try ditching the rows and columns of desks and opting instead for larger tables that seat several students, or arrange student desks to make larger tables or conversation groupings. Put student desks in a circle and leave an open area in the center of your room for instruction and activities. Get your students out of their desks and moving as much as possible, and consider taking your class outside the classroom with fieldtrips and even sitting on the school lawn for class. The goal is to make the classroom more community oriented rather than teacher oriented.
Keep Your Classes Communicative
Keeping classes communicative may already be how you teach. Language is for communication. So getting your students to communicate with each other is essential both for language learning and for appealing to post-modern students. Focus on communication rather than perfection. Encourage your students to communicate creatively with the language that they do know rather than getting tripped up because of language they don’t know. Get your students doing most of the talking during class. It will benefit them as language learners as well as members of a post-modern world.
Think of Yourself as a Facilitator Rather Than an Instructor
The traditional teacher is one who stands in front of a class and dispels knowledge to their students. That just doesn’t cut it with post-modern students. Try considering yourself a facilitator rather than an instructor. You are there to give students direction in their own discovery of the English language. That doesn’t mean you can’t instruct, but when possible let your students discover language for themselves and point them in the right direction when they need a nudge.
Encourage Students to Set Their Own Goals
Getting your students invested in their own learning is a big plus for the postmodern classroom. Rather than having student compete against each other, try having students compete against themselves by setting their own learning and language goals. Of course, you will want to help your students set appropriate goals and guide them on the road to accomplishing those goals, so take time to meet with individual students to discuss both their goals and their progress on a regular basis.
Integrate Media Whenever You Can
Today’s students are continually surrounded by technology. Use it to your advantage. Welcome smart phones and tablets in your classroom. Use them to access online resources such as videos and quizzes. Record student presentations on their own devises and ask them to review their own performance. Use them to send and receive emails or access your classroom blog as needed. Technology is a part of life these days. Make is a part of your classroom, too.
Include Pictures with Every Block of Text
If you look at books for today’s young people, there’s one thing you won’t see. A page with nothing but text. Postmodern students like visuals to go along with the written word, so include pictures on your worksheets, slide shows, and any other places where you would normally have only writing on the page.
Use the Discovery Grammar Method
A student centered classroom will challenge your English learners to take more of a role in their own learning. You can do this with methods such as the discovery grammar method. When you teach this way, you give students a worksheet that practices a certain grammatical pattern with the answers already in the blanks. Then challenge students to see if they can figure out the rule for the answers on their own. Once they have come to a conclusion about how that grammar point works in English, give a short lesson on the topic to make sure students found the correct solution and to answer any questions they may still have about it.
Consider a Flipped Classroom
If you haven’t heard of this newer structure for classrooms, it’s worth looking into. Basically, a flipped classroom has students receive instruction outside of the classroom and then uses class time to practice and deepen that knowledge. It’s the reverse of a traditional classroom which typically does instruction within its walls and then has students practice that knowledge for homework. You’ll need to consider several things before fully committing to a flipped classroom, but consider this model even if only for one or two lessons during your semester.
Set up and Use Independent Learning Centers
Everybody loves a good buffet, right? Why not give your students a teaching buffet. Set up learning centers around your classroom that focus on different language skills. Give your students regular periods to work at those learning stations. This will tailor instruction to their needs, and is also a good way for students to accomplish the goals they set for themselves. You can also set some students to work at learning centers while you meet with others either in small groups or individually for assessment or practice, so it helps classroom management as well.
Set the Mood in Your Classroom
Just because your room comes with rigid desks and florescent lights doesn’t mean you have to settle for that as your decor. Bring in lamps that offer more natural light. Play music in the background. And bring in several large floor pillows for your students to sit on while they work independently. Classrooms don’t have to feel sterile. By making yours more inviting and personal, your students will feel like English class is an invitation they want to answer rather than an obligation they have to meet.
You may or may not have a postmodern mindset, but either way you can have a postmodern friendly classroom.
Try these tips for making your class more student centered, more interactive, and feel more like home and your students will love you for it.