During the previous parts of our strategy-based instruction series, you’ve established that your customer is the employer and verified the skills your students need to learn. You’ve also explored the best way to teach with the resources you have. Now, it’s time to actually teach those skills.
Even if you don’t have a strong education background, there are a few simple strategies you can rely on to make sure your students do well.
Provide Clear Objectives
Today’s students are familiar with a classroom experience that is straightforward and technologically enhanced. Therefore, if you want to engage them, don’t simply present the day’s lecture out of a book and expect them to understand everything by the end of class.
Instead, start by informing students of the day’s learning objectives. If you intend to teach them how to change oil, tell them, “Today we’ll be changing oil.” This way, your students will have an easier time picking out the important points of a lecture and will know what to look forward to.
How do you know when you’ve done something right? Is it because you followed each step correctly or achieved a particular result?
Explain what success means for your students. Tell them how to know when they’ve done something right. For instance, if being successful means you’ve done x, y, and z, tell your students that these things are what happen when they’ve correctly completed a task.
If they understand what success looks like, students will have an easier time recalling the necessary information when they go to repeat that task at work. They’ll also be better prepared to explore other ways to complete the same tasks, which goes a long way in helping them develop essential critical thinking skills. Instead of just being told, they’ll be able to decide for themselves which methods work best.
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Students learn better when they can relate to what they’re learning. They also have a much easier time understanding material when you provide context or background information.
In other words, telling students ahead of time about the things you’ll be teaching them, why those tasks are important, and what it means to complete an activity successfully makes students more likely to remember that those tasks are part of a process instead of isolated events.
Making sure your students can relate to and understand the reasons behind what they’re learning is a great way to motivate them, but the best way to keep them interested is getting them actively involved in the learning process.
Don’t do—coach. Whenever possible, ask one or more of your students to try going through the activity while you explain it in depth. Unless there’s a safety concern, you should always aim to get students working through tasks while they learn so that they understand more easily.
Encourage Learner Involvement
In addition to having students go through tasks, the most effective way for students to learn is by working through problems with each other.
As an instructor, this means you shouldn’t aim to simply teach students about the material. You can’t learn it for them. Instead, your goal as an instructor is to be a coach as your students work to grasp new concepts, diagnose problems, and implement solutions.
Get your students out of their seats and make them a part of the lesson. Ask them to work in groups and tackle problems together. Students can also act as teachers. They can brainstorm and encourage one another while you stand by to correct them and provide guidance.
As students begin to apply what they’ve learned, your role as an instructor should become increasingly hands-off. We’ll discuss the best way to do this while helping your students practice in the next step in our strategy-based instruction series.
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