As high school students, we have experienced a plethora of teachers and teaching styles on a variety of subjects. You have your old-school lectures, the teachers that will talk the whole class and run you through four spiral notebooks full of notes every quarter. Or maybe you have the hip teacher, who uses video, hands-on activities, and alternative learning methods to try to make class fun. They probably have a Twitter account. Perhaps you have a mix of the two.
You are never going to like all of your teachers, but everyone remembers those teachers they really connected with. No one student learns the same way, so there is no superior, foolproof method of teaching. The key to being a good teacher is adapting your teaching style to your students.
At a basic level, there are three learning types: auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. Auditory learners are at their best during–you guessed it–lessons involving a lot of listening. Lecturing would be the optimal teaching style for an auditory learner. Visual learners need to see things when learning. Charts, graphs, and videos would be the best choice for visual learners. Kinesthetic learners are your hands-on learners. They need to be active, through activities such as labs and field trips.
The key to succeeding in school is to find out what type of learner you are, and applying that to your studying and homework time. Keep in mind that in order for you to do well, you must also study and actually do your homework.
Success does not only depend on the students, however. According to Mary Randsell of The University of Memphis, lectures are at their peak effectiveness in 5–15 minute intervals. If they drag any longer than that, teachers can start to lose the interest of our easily distracted minds. A video or hands-on activity can do wonders for a class. However, note-taking has been the primary method of learning for a long time for a reason. Teachers were lecturing in universities as early as the 14th century.
Sometimes you just have to break open a half-baked power point and ram the important stuff into your students’ brains. If you spend all your time on alternate learning methods, your students may not pick up the key points of the lesson. Just like everything else in life, you need to avoid extremes, and practice moderation and variation in your lessons.
Moral of the story: students are not drones. We all learn in different ways and the responsibility needs to be shared between teachers and students to find a balance. Teachers need to mix things up and tune their lessons to appeal to all different kinds of students. Students need to stop blaming their laziness on teachers and focus on studying in the right way for them.