Home' Teacher : July 2010 Contents your responsibility to see that conditions
are as they should be for effective learning.
Remember that the whole learning environ-
ment has a significant impact on students'
behaviour and performance. Students need to
feel safe and stimulated by this environment.
2. Create the right presentation
Set out to present your lessons in ways
which will engage, motivate and inspire. I
read recently of a highly effective teacher
who taught linear equations to Year 8s by
using rubber bands and Barbie and Ken
dolls, and bungee jumping the dolls off ever-
higher platforms. Your presentation strate-
gies should include visual, auditory, hands-
on and tactile approaches. Remember that
if you're not passionate about your subject,
and excited and motivated by your lessons,
the chances of your students getting highly
engaged will be significantly reduced. I often
use simple magic tricks to engage students'
interest. I've used these with thousands of
students and never had one who was not
intrigued by them.
3. Encourage new forms of thinking
Include hands-on activities, creative think-
ing, problem-solving and critical-thinking
skills to store information into long-term
memory and then teach techniques to retrieve
that information. If you need inspiration,
search the web. You'll find literally millions
of highly engaging ready-made lesson plans.
4. Design activities to involve all
We all learn best by doing and by becoming
involved. Activities, games, discussions and
role-playing are all vital. You should be able
to name at least three distinct strategies that
will fully involve every one of your students
before beginning any focused learning ses-
sion with them.
5. Apply it
To learn it, do it. Provide students with a
variety of options for demonstrating what
they've learned. An excellent way is for stu-
dents to teach someone else what they've
learned. Link new information with existing
information. The more you link information
to what you know, the more you will learn.
6. Celebrate, review, evaluate
There's no better way to motivate students
than to show them that you believe in them.
Always be encouraging and show them how
to keep striving for ongoing improvement.
Regularly celebrate successes in meaning-
ful ways. As you work your way through
these six steps, keep reviewing and evaluat-
ing what is working well and what is not.
If you do this, you're well on your way to
becoming an outstanding teacher.
I was doing some reviewing with groups
of Years 9 and 10 students recently and I
sought feedback from them on what they
think is important in getting them interested
and enthused about learning. This is what
they had to say:
games are a great way to learn
we want to do things, not just talk, read
and write about them
we all want to be involved all the time,
not just a few students
fun is important because so much of
school is boring
we want interesting learning activities
the topics must be relevant to us
we like to get specific recognition for
what we do -- comments, stickers, spe-
we like to hear from other people than
our regular teachers
videos are good, as long as they are inter-
what we learn has to make sense with
what we know already, and
teachers should listen to what students
have to say about their lessons.
We often fail to give students credit for
being able to get more involved in their own
learning. Try listening a little more to your
students and see what you can learn from
I also had the chance to ask more than
100 Year 11 students what advice they'd
give to teachers about de-motivating teacher
behaviou rs. This is what they had to say:
don't have a negative attitude towards
don't put students down
don't single out particular students
don't expect students to write all through
don't get angry, and
avoid setting repetitive, uninteresting
We teachers are in the privileged position
of being able to make dramatic differences
in our students' lives. Are you a teacher who
Brian Brennan is an education con-
sultant who is currently working with
the Bendigo Educ ation Plan. Contact
bbrenn firstname.lastname@example.org. View further
resources on innovating schools at
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