Many people think that the life of a teacher is easy: loads of vacation time, plenty of fun activities all day, and a classroom full of adoring children willing to do whatever you say!
Sadly, the reality is that teaching is one of the hardest professions there is. What it offers in terms of holiday time and emotional affirmation from children, it lacks in salary and discrete working hours: think of all the homework that one teacher has to read, mark, and give thoughtful feedback on in a year! Not to mention the fact that teachers need to come up with original lesson plans for every single thing they teach.
If you're teaching and feel as though you are running out of ideas for how to create engaging lessons, look no further. Here are a few key ways to spice up your learning ideas.
1. Plan With Technology
Although there are still some purists out there who insist that teaching is better with paper and pencil, pen, and markers, the 21st century has truly brought about a revolution in the way children engage with learning. Almost every child is exposed to a computer of some form - even if it's only the screen of a parent's phone - from a very early age. By the time they are in your classroom, they will be very familiar with how computers of all types work.
In order to make your lessons the best they can be, plan for this: incorporate the technology they have at home into your instructions and homework. Better yet, if your school has the budget for it, invest in a few children's tablets that they can use during class time to make your lessons really pop!
2. Encourage Independent Learning
Long gone are the days of standing at the front of the class and insisting the children recite memorized poems, equations, or pieces of history altogether. This form of rote, robotic, universal learning doesn't have nearly the impact that independent investigations do. Giving children the opportunity to lead themselves in their educational journeys is a surefire way to make sure they are deeply engaged in what they are learning.
Of course, you can't just set them wild and loose in a classroom. That said, writing a lesson that gives them a general guide for what to do and then allowing them to take the reins from there will provide them with the opportunity to feel they have agency over their own environment, knowledge, and skills!
3. Collaborate with Other Classrooms
There's nothing better than the days at school when different classes combine to create projects or enjoy activities. Get in touch with other teachers during your planning sessions and see if you can't come up with a way to integrate learning into both your classrooms. The benefits for the students in terms of learning will be incredible, and the benefits to you both in terms of a break will be pretty great, too!