It All Starts With The Intro!
We’ve all heard how important first impressions are, people say you can only make one first impression. But, the way I see it, you can make a good first impression every time you enter the class. The better you are at that first impression in every session, the more likely your students are to learn. If you are a new teacher, this will be a bit harder but it will pay-off.
There are many ways to start class and grab everybody’s attention. But, in all cases you have to be a good actor; you have to take students mentally with you to wherever you want them to be, and that depends on the topic you are discussing. First, dress according to the topic even if sometimes that means looking a little funny, if you are good, everybody will be laughing with you, not at you. Second, set the place depending on the topic. Seating arrangements, posters, lighting, video setup, anything you need. Take those extra minutes before class to set up without anyone knowing what to expect. Third, do something different every time. Get out of your comfort zone, teachers usually stick to what they are used to, or to what their own teachers were used to, it just feels safe! But it takes more than “safe” to have a fun class, so think outside the box IT IS WORTH IT.
Moreover please do not worry about a noisy classroom, if you make it interesting enough and plan it well, all the noise you will be hearing will most probably be healthy noise. Students will be learning.
Let Them DO Science NOT Watch It
Students just love science experiments! And teachers just do not do enough experiments; and if they do, students only get to watch -_- How fun is that! If you want your students waiting for class every time, you have to get them engaged as much as possible. Have weekly or biweekly experiments related to lessons, and believe me, science subjects are just too integrated you can find links between lessons and real-life experiments everywhere.
You can tell students about upcoming experiments and use them as privileges! Tell your students they can participate if they do well on quizzes and projects. Do not punish, instead, just remove privileges. Believe me, none of your students will want to miss the chance to blow something up or mix stuff in the lab! Plus, there are many “safe” experiments that your students can do, and that is always what you should go for! Students learn more by doing than they do by watching.
You can get ideas for very fun experiments everywhere on the web; however, a good place to start searching is YouTube. Steve Spangler is someone you could start looking up, from his series TheSpanglerEffect. Furthermore, you can also find loads and loads of ideas for your classroom. Another scientist you might want to look up is Robert Krampf or The Happy Scientist. This might completely change the way you and your students feel about science.
Keep them on their toes
Last but not least, to keep your students waiting and looking forward to class next time, there are two more things you can try: be mysterious about upcoming events, and do not follow a pattern.
You know how it feels when someone tells you a riddle and takes off! You just feel like you want to kill them yet you want them to stay there and tell you what and why! That is how you want your students feeling. This is why you need to be mysterious about what is coming next. For example, you can finish every session with a weird science question, get everybody thinking in the last two minutes of the session, but do not give an answer, just keep queuing them until the bell rings, then tell them: “we will find out next session!” This can be your ticket to having a great next session. Here you can also find a lot of examples online for weird science questions which you can relate to your lessons.
Finally, do not follow a pattern. Always do something different, do not let your students get used to one style. Just take something new out of your sleeve every time. This way, students will never know what to expect; one day an amazing experiment, the other day class in the playground, the other day a movie to watch … This will eliminate the boredom they usually have and it will help you keep them on their toes.
Keep students excited! That is what you wanted for yourself when you were a student.