The start of a new year always feels like a chance to try new things and maybe even “start over” with our students. This is the perfect opportunity to reflect on what is and what isn’t working within your classroom.
Taking the time to identify these things and then brainstorming ideas on how to keep the good going and re-configure the bad will help make your classroom run smoother and help you to be a more efficient educator. Irrespective of your knowledge of the subject matter backward and forward, your ability to rattle off the names and philosophies of dozens of educational theorists, or even your respectable record of achievements, the fact is that a new year presents itself with lots of unprecedented mysteries. The best approach is to prepare adequately for it.
The secret to success in any endeavor is planning. However, in reference to this particular endeavor, don’t just plan: over plan. Don’t just prepare: over prepare. Don’t just write enough lesson plans to fill one class or a single day. Write more than enough! Luckily, when it comes to planning ahead, teachers usually have an advantage. We are well known for our organizational skills, which help to ensure that every moment in the classroom is dedicated to keeping students engaged. Nevertheless, the emphasis here is having enough to engage students the whole term or year.
The first preparation you need is psychological, in order to get started on the right foot and to keep your motivation high for those things that are most vital. After the two months break, you will probably find it hard to just up and go to the classroom. Your mind and body both need to acclimatise to the idea that leisure is done and business is in play. The key things you can do to keep motivation high are to positively frame your work, set short and long-term goals, plan how much time to allocate for achieving these goals, and most importantly, prioritize the tasks planned.
With this done, make the physical plan. This involves scheming your content and planning your calendar on time. A key motivation killer is getting overwhelmed. Writing down the things you need to do help to keep from getting to that point. Sometimes this list can be intimidating, but when you plan when you will do each task in your calendar or diary, it has the magical effect of making it much less so.
In addition, to the calendar plan, you also need to write a detailed syllabus or scheme of work that will guide your lesson plans. The last thing you want is for there to be six minutes left before the lunch bell and have little to nothing for students to do. You don’t want them to see you scrambling for a sponge activity not connected to the prior teaching. Make sure you incorporate and review icebreakers in the scheme to make students feel safe and comfortable in their new classroom quickly. Your students are now one year older and the expectations placed upon them are obviously becoming greater. Plus, you may also have a couple of new faces joining your ranks, so it’s a good idea to come up with interesting activities for each lesson.
When all is said and done, nothing beats proper planning in any endeavour where success is needed. Fine-tuning and perfecting lessons, the notes, the activities, the aids and the mini-lessons will go a long way in reducing teacher stress and improving academic conditions in the classroom.
The writer is a lecturer at The Adventist University of Central Africa
Dan Mutara, student, University of Rwanda
Having no interest in economics is basically about your attitude towards it;, which is the reason you look at it as a difficult subject. In my opinion, change your attitude; start looking at economics like any other subject you like, and give it more time for revision.
Patrick Kagame, student, University of Kigali
Team work makes studying easy and exciting. You should consider joining your fellow students who enjoy studying the subject and perform well in it and seek their assistance to help you gain your interest in the subject.
Patience Isaro, S6 vacationist
You should try to be close to your teachers and seek their assistance. Teachers know best how to deal with students who don’t have morale and interest in some of their academic subjects. They are acquainted with effective ways to help you make the most out of your studies. Open up to your economics teacher, and request his help.
Ronald Rutagengwa, sales person
Don’t give up. Keep trying to improve your grades and your interest in economics;. Nothing comes easy; consider doing extra revision, consulting your teachers and friends were you need help and doing more research. Eventually, this will offer you an opportunity to embrace your academics and keep you close to what you want to achieve.