Engaging with children can be a tough challenge, especially when they do not respect you. Generally, teachers take one of two approaches; a strict disciplinarian who commands respect or an honest and open teacher who builds a rapport with students. There are obviously benefits to both approaches. You are almost certainly going to teach in your own style, but because every student is different, it can sometimes be challenging to engage with the classroom as a whole. Being able to teach by adding fun will help to create a positive environment. They will look forward to coming to and immediately develop a mind-set that they are ready to learn.
The days when you could sit a student down with a textbook have long since passed. In an era where touch and interactive technology is prevalent, it is important to adapt your teaching approach to accommodate this. The classroom is reminiscent of the world of work, professionalism does not have to reign all of the time. Interjecting at points with fun and humour helps you to build a rapport while helping children to learn.
It is important to maintain authority and control, but allow yourself to come down to their level. This allows children to be able to relate to you and see you as more than an adult forcing them to learn about something they may not be initially interested in. To humanise yourself somewhat, open up and make fun of yourself. Poke at your flaws and you can be sure you will get some laughs from the classroom.
One thing that cannot be controlled is the interest in your subject from students. This is why it is crucial to adopt an approach which gets children to engage with the subject matter and ideally, develop an interest. Therefore, it is important to put effort into lesson planning to find unique ways to make topics interesting. We live in a world where technology is being used increasingly to help children to learn. While most school budgets won’t stretch to multiple tablet computers, the same premise can be adopted to encourage learning.
With eyes fixed upon you for hours at a time, you need to demonstrate your enthusiasm for a subject and show why it is interesting. Small factors such as your tone of voice and body language can go a long way to generating excitement and interest. Droning on with lists and explanations is a sure-fire way to hamper interest in your subject. Instead, spice up your language with irony, sarcasm and theatrics to engage students first in you, and then transfer this to the topic you are teaching.
Once you begin to build a rapport with students, you will then be able to understand their interests. It is important to integrate this with your lesson plan. Characters from television shows are far more relatable than an imaginary creation from a text book. They help to engage children while distracting them from the fact they are learning at the same time.
Adding fun into learning environments is obviously very subjective as each classroom is different. Even just changing your attitude to make your subject more approachable can help children to learn and potentially, begin to really enjoy what you teach. Reaching a point where students are excited to come to your classes can be very rewarding. Making the classroom a fun environment to be in is a fantastic place to start achieving that.