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David Semitekol

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Gaining your student's attention

What makes a poor teacher without regards to the subject matter? A poor teacher is one who shows up late to class or even just on time. They do not seem to be ready for the class, or they do not have a plan or itinerary. The same is true with business meetings. Ever attend a meeting where there is no itinerary? The meeting is conducted haphazardly and never seems to have direction or reach its goals. Another issue is the teacher making excuses for poor or missing equipment. This falls back to the teacher not being properly prepared for class. All of this places a negative cloud over the teacher’s head and places doubt in the students. Your students must trust you and believe that you are the leading authority on the subject. This boils down to exuding and displaying confidence. They must respect you and this respect will never be achieved through one of the aforementioned examples. Always remember that the teacher is the beacon of light in a dense cloud of fog. If your light doesn’t work properly or know where to shine, your students will remain lost in a sea of confusion.

Now in the classroom you must make sure that your students are actively listening. You can quickly lose your audience as they just sit there and nod their heads in compliance or direct their attention elsewhere. If you have a class that is comfortable with each other you can easily achieve an active audience. You will find and should encourage your students to ask questions, work on problems, and fail at problems. This will keep them interested and actively listening which will increase their ability to understand the material, thus learning it. When you notice your students drifting it is then that you must interact with them, do not simply continue on with your lecture. What is the point in getting through the material on time if your students don’t understand it? Teaching is not a production line where you build things, it is a garden where you grow things, and that takes time.

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    Feb 2 2012: It also depends on the age at which you are teaching. I have spent time in grades 1-6, with a majority of my time being spent with 4th-6th grades. However, I am also a college student, I tend to be a people watcher and often find myself noticing when people are not paying attention in my college courses. It is much more rare from the younger kids to become distracted for the duration college students do. It is also much easier to redirect younger children versus older college students. I agree to an extent that simply being the teacher involves some level of respect, but I want my students to respect me as the person I am, not because I am their educator. If one conveys this message from the very beginning, I feel it is much easier to hold students attention. There are also tons of class management techniques that can be used such as proximity control or using the students name in the context of whatever your teaching!
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      Feb 2 2012: "I want my students to respect me as the person I am, not because I am their educator"

      Hi Victor.....I have found that when educators respect the students, one of the best ways is by addressing them by name, and also interacting with them, then naturally the students respect the educator.

      I have found that having a good raport with my students and their parents have allowed me to gain their respect.

      They know that I am not only their teacher, but I can be their friend in a time of need. I also instill the spirit of cooperation in the class, so the students rely on each other, and not compete with each other. This is highly important in order to have a great year of learning....especially in the elementary school.

      I enjoyed reading your reflections.....

      I will share one about class management:

      After teaching for over a decade, I found myself interviewing for a new teaching position. The administrator asked me: "so, what class management technique do you use to keep the kids under control?" I have always found that question irritating. My reply is always the same.....None.......I keep the kids so busy working and interacting with me, they do not have time to misbehave. The administrator usually laughs at my reply..... And soon enough, after visiting my classroom, they discover this to be true.
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        Feb 2 2012: Mary I appreciate your kind words and advice.
        One of the best tips for classroom management that I have received is always have an open door policy. The way a professor put goes like this, "Come to my office, if I am there come in and we'll talk. If I am not there, then be somewhere else." During my student teaching I would always try my best to stay in our room during lunch, I offered students the choice to come hangout during lunch if they ever wanted too. By the time I was done with student teaching I almost had an entire class eating lunch with me. Needless to say, all of us were quite sad when it was time for me to move on!!
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          Feb 3 2012: Great Victor.....most dedicated teachers I know eat with their students, be it the school cafeteria, or the classroom.

          Be Well!!!!
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      Feb 2 2012: Hi Victor,

      Excellent point about using their names in the classroom setting. This should definitely help to keep their attention and maintain an active learning environment.

      I found it very interesting that your younger students maintain a higher level of concentration than most college students. This is the difficulty that we face in a college setting. They are here to learn and understand the material as it is extremely important to them in the years to come.

      One thing that I am starting to understand is the usefulness of the material from one class to another. I wonder if at times students lose their attention span because they don't think that a particular class applies to them.
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        Feb 3 2012: When I was in college, I found that I needed to be an active listener to get the professor to know me as a person.

        All too often, college professors do not take the initiative to get to know the students. Sometimes it is because the class size is huge.

        The squeeky wheel always gets the oil......I was always the squeeky wheel in my college classes....I wanted to get my money's worth. It certainly paid off, in my opinion. And I made some very good friends.
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          Feb 3 2012: Absolutly, getting to know your teacher is half the experience of the college setting and increases your learning potential. While my classes are never more than 35 students, I pride myself on having a relationship will all of my professors. At times much more is learned during casual conversation after class. Additionally when the teacher learns who their students are they can improve their delivery of the material and customize it for the students in the class.

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