Your first job as a teacher is marketing. Your subject and topics are products and you have to convince your students to buy them.
All teachers in this social media era will agree to one problem that is killing education in the world. Everyone is tired of this problem because students don’t want to change from it. If we had our ways or super powers, we would do something to solve this problem once and for all. What is this problem? Students don’t like to read. They are so lazy it drives you crazy, isn‘t it? And this is particularly sad, because, let’s face it, no learner can do well unless they are willing to read, right? I’m terribly sorry about this. We live in dark times, reader.
But then I ask, are students really lazy? I mean, as a student, were you a gracious reader?
If you answered yes, you’re amazing. If in all honesty, you answered no, you’re amazing too, and your answer takes me to my point, students are not lazy, the content of the teacher or the material to be read maybe boring.
Your first job as a teacher is marketing. Your subject and topics are products and you have to convince your students to buy them. Children have short interest span, and if you will get them to read a text to the end, or get then to be active in your class, you have to be interesting, fascinating and wowing, and of course, encouraging.
You can market your subjects by doing the following:
1.Telling your students to put you and the product to a test. What do I mean? I will give and instance. Last year, I taught year eleven students literature. I discovered they wouldn’t read poems or write analysis when asked to do so. I tried to attach marks to the task, which seemed the easiest way to lure them, and they didn’t care. I decided a new means. I told them to go home, read a couple of poems, come with questions for me. I told them that was their chance to shame poetry. To my surprise, these children came to school with as much analysis as possible. They read the poems I recommended, read other poems, and in the process fell I love with poetry and even started having favourite authors. You see what I mean? I think this can work in other subjects too.
2. Add humour to your lesson. Everyone wants to laugh. Everyone wants to get the joke. This is because live is so serious and we want to cool off sometimes. If students can have a comic relief in between reading and listening, you will gain their attention.
3. Activities. What kind of method do you employ? I mean, kids are full of energy and they are dying to use all those energy. Make then do something while they read. Assign them roles. You will be grateful you did.
4. Reinforcement is like a spell. Cast it on your students. Promise then a prize at the end of the lesson. It doesn’t have to be expensive. A pen. A new book. Some naira notes, (if it is allowed by the school and the parents). If they see immediate reward for their Labour, they will do more.
5. Be gracious in what you do. Teach your subject with passion. Like it is the sweetest thing that ever happened to you. Make them what to discover for themselves the amazing thing you have discovered in your subject. You will be amazed.
6. Do not feed them lies. Be honest. Do not tell students they won’t succeed if they don’t read or pass your subject. I mean let’s face it, their parents are wealthy and they had no contact with you. It’s cliche by the way. Auccess in itself is relative. Tell them that a sound knowledge in literature would make them critical thinkers. Make then analysts, creatives, humanists, liberals, and if they can do well in college, they can easily pursue a career in the arts or humanities in the future. I think this is honest enough. Allow your students to determine what success means to them.
Adaeze Michael Nwadike is a Nigerian teacher and creative writer. She lives in Abuja and is passionate about young people, and using literature and books to change her world. Follow her on YouTube and Facebook @ arts lounge.