Two easy ways to create more student activity

Here’s something to be thinking about over the summer. 

These are two pieces of great teaching advice that I have been given and really helped me to think about how to structure sessions and generate discussions… 

1. Don’t do anything you could get the students to do! 

Now, this may seem like cheating, getting the students to do your work, but in reality, it’s about getting the students involved, getting them to feel related to what they are studying, to feel some kind of competence and to have a sense of autonomy over their involvement. 

So this is the challenge for you to think about before next year’s teaching…  How can you get the students to be more involved? 

Could it be that they have to find the examples of songs to play in the session rather than you finding them? Or maybe they have to search the web for news on music publishing this week rather than you giving it to them? Or to foster more of a sense of autonomy, could it be asking them how they would like to learn a certain subject, thinking about how to make sessions more relevant to their lives and interests? 

2. Don’t tell the students anything that you could ask them a question about instead. 

It is easy to give students the information they are seeking and answer their questions. However, a good habit to get into to is to not automatically answer a question from the students, but rather to ask the question back to the group. So when a student asks, “Is this a good title for my essay?”, your reply could be, “What do you think?”, or “What does everyone else in the room think? Turning statements you may make into questions puts the ball into the students’ court, encouraging them to think, to come up with possibilities, to wonder why something may be happening.

A final thought to ponder: Can you think of teacher talk that you can turn into questions?

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