By Erik Luna
It’s tough being a good student and it’s even tougher being a good instructor.
As difficult as it is, both students and instructors need to put their best efforts into learning the material and teaching it.
Every student has had one of those classes that they can’t seem to concentrate in.
As soon as class starts, minds start to wander, notebooks become a blank canvas for the imagination to spew its random doodles or eyes seem to carry the whole weight of the world and struggle to stay open.
Who is at fault? Is it the student? Is it the instructor? The answer is not always clear.
Many students take classes simply to satisfy certain requirements and it’s hard to get interested in a subject that’s completely foreign.
Success for students is simple passing the class with a satisfactory grade. Success for an instructor is simple as well, getting through to the students and imparting knowledge of a given subject.
So, what can students and instructors do to increase their individual success in the classroom?
It can be as easy as asking questions or opening the room to a discussion. The key to success in the classroom is an open dialogue between student and teacher.
As technology seeps its way into the classroom, discussions have become less frequent and Power Point presentations have become a staple.
Students need to speak up, ask questions not only to clarify, but to challenge and provoke their teacher into giving more than a lesson-plan-speech.
Instructors also need to spend time thinking of interesting ways to interact with students if they see that the students are losing interest.
When I think back to my favorite instructors, or those who taught me more, it isn’t those who simply read from the book and pointed at pictures on the board.
No, it’s the instructor who shakes his podium so violently while describing an important event in history that they fall to the floor in front of the class that I remember.
It would be those who jump on top of a desk and ask their students to challenge what they think art is.
Students react to the energy given out by their instructor. If they are sluggish, students will be creating pools of saliva on their desk, but if instructors are excited about the material they teach, the students will catch that vibe.
It’s all about making learning interesting. Rather than reading notes to the class, why not give those notes as print outs and have a game show type competition in class.
Juvenile as it may seem, competition is a good motivation tool and can create a stronger memory.
A former instructor of mine taught his class this way seven years ago and although I hated the subject, I still remember information I learned using his techniques.
I don’t remember what I learned in some of my classes from last semester.
Being successful in the class is hard work, but it can also be fun as long as both student and instructors are willing to try to make it that way.