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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 3 2012: Thank you everyone for the comments, some of them have been very helpful.

    I'd like to try to focus the conversation back around to the teacher and creating an active listening enviroment for the students. This is accomplished through the teacher more than through the students.

    When we achieve an active student audience they will have a better understanding of the material and begin to think about the material themselves. Understanding the why is sometimes more important than understanding the how.

    College is the time and opportunity for a deeper level of thinking and thought, one that is impossible if the teacher just walks into a classroom, delivers a lecture and assumes that that is good enough.

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