I would survey my students on what topics they would like to study and try my best to integrate their requests into my lessons. When I taught students for more than one year, I had them offer topics for me to research over the summer. I actually learned a lot right along with the students, which thrilled them also! The students and I have learned how to juggle, photo matting and framing, worm compost, and crocheting as a sample of some of the topics suggested. I incorporated these topics in subject areas of English, Math, Science, and Social Studies.
Sometimes if I felt like I was losing the class, I would stop and regroup and ask the kids why they were not with me. Sometimes it was the weather, hormones, outside situations or other things that I had no control over. Sometimes there was a great discussion about things I could control that would lead me to a better way of teaching the information. I feel the classroom is a 2 way highway and I was always learning something new right along with the kids. I guess that is why I love teaching because I love learning.
I also talked to them about different assessments to give them that would be able to show they understood the concepts and content. It was amazing how excited they were about being given the opportunity to share their ideas on assessment even though I didn’t always use all of their suggestions.
I also had them evaluate the lesson (individual or units) in order to adjust and make them better the next time I used the lesson. When they got in the practice of evaluating the lessons afterwards, they actually watched for certain aspects during the lesson. It was actually fun to hear them debate the positives and negatives of the lesson.
Whenever I did these things, the next time I taught this lesson or a lesson like it, I would always feel that my teaching techniques improved and that is important. Teaching is not stagnant and should always be moving in a positive direction.