"Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire". William Butler Yeats.
Inspiring students is more challenging than imparting knowledge. Any educator can read various books, do research, create their own content, develop own teaching tools and techniques to share knowledge with their students. But what is more important and challenging is inspiring students. When a ship is sailing smoothly anybody can be at the helm to sail it smoothly to the shore. It requires mere expertise to sail the ship. But when the ship faces a storm, true leaders surface to sail the ship smoothly and safely to the shore. Similarly, any educator can go to classroom to share their knowledge. But it requires extraordinary passion and courage to go to classroom to inspire students.
Nowadays, lots of information is available in search engines and students have access to them the way the educators have. They don't appreciate ordinary educators who believe in conventional classroom teaching pedagogy with chalk-and-walk methods. They expect extraordinary educators with more inspiring messages beyond the information available on the internet with extraordinary enthusiasm to inspire them. Hence, educators must gear up to this challenge not only to impart knowledge to their students but also to inspire them to dream and achieve big.
Tools and Techniques to Inspire Your Students
Inspiring students is not an easy task. It requires extraordinary passion, immense energy and enthusiasm. Before you intend to inspire your students, imagine the teachers and leaders who inspired you in your life. Find out what made them stand out from others. Find out what touched you the most. Absorb the same and apply the same. Here are some time tested tools and techniques to inspire your students to make a difference in their lives:
- Find out what they want and give them rather than giving what you know.
- Take extra interest in students' activities. It connects you with students and places you in a positive light. They start emulating and following you.
- Change their attitude, improve their behavior and develop their personality.
- Share your knowledge wholeheartedly and freely. Share unique knowledge to stand out. Read good books especially biographies of great people who bounced back from their failures. Share them with your students. It raises their hope.
- Practice what you preach. Maintain impeccable integrity and character. Stand by your commitment. Don't talk about yourself. Talk about them.
- Share stories as they engage students' imaginations and emotions. They show students what they're capable of becoming or of doing.
- Communicate clearly in simple and straight sentences. Use the shortest and oldest words to connect with your students. Find out the simple sentences that inspire students and use them regularly. Remember the sage words of Rudyard Kipling, "Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind".
- Be passionate about your profession and demonstrate the same to your students.
- Be kind and supportive to your students. Set high and achievable standards.
- Use variety of teaching tools and techniques to reach out to all types of learners. Include various aspects such as interaction, theoretical concepts, case studies, stories, action learning, questioning and role-plays depending on the subject you teach to inspire them.
- Use positive words and especially 'you', and when you want to criticize them use the word like 'they'. It helps them change their behavior and you win respect also.
- Give them freedom in the classroom to open up and communicate. It makes a huge difference. They will be emboldened to speak out which adds value to the classroom teaching.
- Respect students. Make them comfortable. Listen to them. Appreciate their viewpoints.
- Find out their areas of interests and incorporate them in your teaching sessions.
- Be a professional. Maintain professional dress code.
- Demonstrate positive body language.
- Treat all students equally in the classroom.
- Be flexible while sharing your knowledge. Find out the body language of your students. If you find that they are not responding positively to your session, it is time to shift your gears. Try different strategies to invite their attention to share your knowledge. Also, sustain their attention levels throughout your teaching session.
- Don't dump information. Question them to make them think. Share more examples. If possible, demonstrate to reach out. Conduct role-plays. Use visuals to invite their attention to impact them.
- Don't bother for making mistakes. We all make mistakes daily. But we must learn from our mistakes by treating them as learning opportunities to impact students.
- Share interesting and unique stories of people who bounced back from failures and grew in their careers. Remember, stories help connect with students and ensure effective takeaways among them.
- Call for action at the end of your teaching session to inspire them.
- Show your concern and care to your students. Be approachable, accessible and enthusiastic to spend your time with them. Win their trust and confidence.
- Demonstrate your passion to convert ordinary students into extraordinary students.
- Praise in classroom, punish in your personal cabin. Call personally to your cabin to correct their behavior.
- Take your feedback about your teaching session.
- Counsel them, if required. Lend your ears to empathize with them. Don't disturb when they speak. Address their concerns, provide clarifications and involve in a conversation to win their confidence. Share your knowledge. Also, acquire knowledge from them to add value to your existing knowledge base. Above all, emphasize to change their attitude and behavior to become better citizens.
- Succinctly, show your passion for education. Demonstrate your dedication towards students. Believe in the potential of your students. Hold them to high expectations. Be relentless to help them realize their hidden potential. If you want to touch the lives of your students, you must judiciously blend various elements in classroom such as variety, diversity, utility and enjoyment. Extraordinary educators emphasize on learning experiences while the ordinary educators emphasize on instructional episodes. Extraordinary educators think beyond the classroom and aim at impacting students lifelong.
Show the Location of Fish
Lao Tzu quoted, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". Hence, don't give fish to your students. On the other hand, teach them how to catch fish to enable them to become experts and independent. They don't approach you every time for fish as they catch fish regularly and enjoy their meals. In order to inspire your students, you must not only teach them the art of catching the fish but also show them the location of fish to enable them to learn the art and craft of fishing apart from availing the opportunities.
A Good Teacher is a Great Leader
True teachers are visionaries as they know where to take their students. A good teacher is a great leader. Hence, acquire the qualities of a leader to excel as a great educator. Teaching is a blessed profession. You will not make much money in this profession but you will leave lots of impression among your students by shaping them as great citizens. You will leave this world a better place to live. Above all, you will leave your footprints and become a legend. To conclude, "A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others".
"Teaching is more than imparting knowledge, it is inspiring change. Learning is more than absorbing facts, it is acquiring understanding". William Arthur Ward.
Prof. M.S. Rao
International Leadership Guru
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