By Teachers, For Teachers
How do you know if a lesson went well? Usually, teachers judge if their lessons were a success by how engaged their students were. But, as engaged as they may be in the lesson, you won’t know how well they’ve comprehended what you taught them until you assess them, and even then you may not entirely know because not all students are good test takers. Here are a few practical teaching strategies to ensure that your lessons are a success.
You’ve probably heard this a million times, but reflecting on what you’ve learned is one of the best ways to know if you have a clear understanding of what you’re learning. Provide opportunities for students to self-assess, because in the real world this is something that they’ll have to do every day of their lives. Remind students that in the outside world, people are always checking over their work and making revisions. Learning through self-reflection can make a difference between success and failure both inside and outside of school.
There are many ways students can reflect upon what they just learned. It’s often said that the best way to learn is by teaching someone else, so why not have students reteach the concept to their peers? Another way to reflect is to sketch a picture, share in a journal, or use an exit slip. Whether informal or formal, reflection is one of the best ways to ensure that a lesson was a success.
Classroom activities serve as an evaluation tool for teachers to know whether their lesson has met their objectives. If you want to know if your lesson was successful, then you must be able to create a learning task where students are able to show an understanding of the content. In order to successfully do this, you’ll need to start from the end (what students need to know) and move backward. For example, start by writing down what students should know by the end of the activity, then create your activity based upon that. If you truly want to know that they understand what they are learning, then you need to consider what steps they need to take in order to successfully complete the task.
To ensure that your lesson is a success, you must think about what students may not understand in the lesson while you’re creating the lesson. Teachers are always so focused on how well the lesson went that they tend to forget to check their lesson over for any student misunderstandings. Read and reread your lesson before you even give it to the students. What you’re doing is searching for anything that you think the students may misconstrue. Then while you’re teaching the lesson, ask students if there is anything that they aren’t understanding. The more you check for misconceptions, the better you can ensure that your students will have a firm grasp of the content they’re learning.
When planning your lessons, try and put yourself in your students’ shoes for a moment, just so you can see what their experience with the lesson will be like. When you do this, you’ll be able to tell if students are working alone too long, writing too much or not enough, sitting in their seats too much, etc. This is a great way for you to adjust your lesson so you can ensure it will be a success. You can also observe students once they are completing the lesson. Watch what they’re doing, how they’re learning, and if they’re engaged or not. This will help you tweak the lesson for next time you use it.
To ensure that your lesson will go well, why not involve your students in the process? When you get your students involved in their own learning, there’s a better chance that they will comprehend the concept that is being taught. Provide opportunities for reciprocal learning and peer interaction. Get your students involved in the process by giving choices of what and how they want to learn. You can use choice boards to give students a little control. The more choices students make about how they will learn a concept, the more you can ensure that the lesson will go well.
Not every lesson that you teach will be a success in your eyes. However, with a little forethought, you can learn to create not only lessons that you’re proud of, but lessons where you know your students will walk away having learned something.
Do you have any teaching strategies that you use to ensure your lessons went well? Please share with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.