Creative Classroom Tips
Tips to Avoid Class Conflict
- Have the students create and sign a learning contract and discuss each item.
- Discuss respect and honoring each individual s ideas and contributions.
- Build an interpersonal climate. Create bonds among classmates. Encourage open discussions about things that personally effect each student. Limit the time for this and make sure everyone gets a chance to contribute.
- Create an atmosphere of safety. One way to promote group trust is by addressing privacy and confidentiality issues.
- Avoid overt competition as much as possible. Instead promote classroom cooperation.
- Pair up partners by drawing numbers. This helps to avoid the problems of the person who never gets chosen or the buddies that never interact with any other classmates.
- Preserve a constructive learning environment by demonstrating respect for students dignity.
- Be honest and demand honesty.
- An introduction exercise is a useful tool for building affinity. Sharing pictures, quotes, short readings, and hobbies works well also.
- Believe in and convey the value of each student.
- Prompt student contributions in a non-threatening manner by drawing out and noting their interests.
Adding value to your teaching (from Laural J. Freeman):
- Listen to the questions being asked.
- To understand students better, pay attention to the words they use.
- Be aware of the words you use and understand their impact.
- Remember that students feel their questions are important.
- Have students write down questions if they are asked at an inopportune time.
- Don't forget to get back to students with answers to postponed questions.
- Ask students to acknowledge their understanding of the subject.
- Ascertain how each student learns.
- Be willing to deliver information in various formats.
- Have a commitment to sharing information, knowledge and philosophies.
- Teach with passion.
- Say, "I don't know" when you don't; be willing to find out.
- Thoroughly research unknown information and remember to convey it.
- Deliver concise and appropriate answers.
- Encourage critical thinking.
- Allow students to use information they perceive as helpful.
- Give quick and easy solutions to help solve problems.
- Convey that everything is possible.
- Relate that there are always choices.
The Peak Learning Moment
Once in a while there comes a defining moment when due to the statement, idea or question of a student the class ignites, comes alive and vigorously pursues the idea. This is not the time to continue with your agenda or to regain control. Instead seize the moment to encourage and allow the class to create. By stepping aside, you signal your acceptance of their process and give permission for this magical and exhilarating time to happen, and perhaps occur again!
|Let go||Dominate or control the discussion|
|Allow the students to set the agenda||Use their enthusiasm to re-set your agenda|
|Let the students direct the conversation||Interject your ideas|
|Participate as a learner||Be a teacher during this time|
|Demonstrate enthusiasm for their ideas||Demonstrate negativity|
|Enhance and extend the peak environment||Stifle the energy of creative thought|
|Conflict||A successful game has a degree of conflict that provides a challenge to achieve the outcome.|
|Constraints||It is ideal to have the least number of constraints imposed on the participants' behavior to promote creativity.|
|Type of Closure||End your game with something that is memorable and allows all participants to be a "winner."|
|Contrivance and Correspondence to Reality||Make the game realistic enough that the players get involved and that it corresponds sufficiently to real life.|
|Replayability||Creating a game so it can be played a number of times provides the students with the opportunity to try out different methods and learn from the resulting differences. The game should be flexible enough to accommodate minor variations to keep the players intrigued.|
|Time Requirement||To have a game be exciting, keep it fast paced. Games that drag can be deadly to involvement and participation.|
|Number of Players||Keep the game flexible by involving small groups of three to five players. Then use parallel play between the groups as an instructional advantage by having the groups compare their experiences during discussion time.|
|Purpose||The game should involve aspects of motivation, instruction, evaluation, and experimentation. Attempt to accommodate as many aspects as possible--keeping the components in balance.|
Adapted by Linda Standke: "Using Games to Help Meet Your Objectives" from
Adult Learning in Your Classroom by Philip G. Jones (Editor) (1982, 1989, 1995),
ISBN 0-943210-00-3, Lakewood Publications
Another idea to assure yourself that the students have retained the information is to
have the students write you a letter 30 days after the class has ended. Have them tell you
what they remember and what they have put into place that was learned in your class.
Bob Pike says, "Training is a process not an event. It begins long before participants enter
the classroom and does not end until we see results."
Retention of learning is helped substantially if students make an action plan during
class to be used upon graduation. Have times during class when students can reflect on
the concepts they learned and how they will apply them. Have the students share with each
other in small groups. Have the small groups share their best ideas with the class. All
students are free to use whatever ideas or suggestions will benefit them and list those
items in their action plan. 48 hours has proven to be a critical time to work on an idea.
Encourage the students to do something toward the thought they wrote down in the next 48
hours even if it is just research.
Albert Mehrabian has shown that if people are exposed to an idea one time they retain
less than 10% at the end of thirty days. If they are exposed to the same idea, with
interval reinforcement, six times over thirty days, retention is greater than 90%. The
two keys are that the information must be reviewed and there needs to be an interval
between reviews. The amount of time between the last review and the next one, needs to
become longer. Reviews can me done in a number of ways. A chart can be made to list the
ideas. The concepts can be shared in small groups. Students can complete a short quiz,
draw a picture, create a role play or any number of other methods to reinforce the ideas
and subjects learned.
While you are teaching the subject, vary your teaching methods. In an earlier edition we
explored the idea of Multiple Intelligences. Everyone learns differently. Keep that in
mind when you design your curriculum and materials. If you can get students involved in
the process of learning, they remember. At the end of each class ask them to tell you
the 10 most important topics learned. A Jeopardy tournament at the end of class can be a
great way to test the student's knowledge and understanding.
The most important goal of teaching is that the student can apply the information once
they leave the class. The key to that transfer of knowledge is the teaching method.
Confucius said: "What I hear, I forget; what I see, I remember; what I do,
I understand." Everyone learns by doing. How do you know if your students learned
the information even if they told you they did?
Another learning tool is to create stories around key points. Making up a story is
creative and helps students to recall information. Encourage students to share their
stories from memory!
To improve learning, set key points to a song that everyone knows (such as
Home on the Range) and have them all sing along. After you've done this a couple
of times, you can assign students to create their own songs for the class to sing.
When you need to cover a topic in which you are not an expert, consider the following
- assign readings
- have the students write reports on the topic
- gather literature and discuss it in class
- have students interview "experts" on the topic
- assign students to make class presentaions on the topic
- bring in a guest instructor
Themes can make a class (or even a series of classes) much more enjoyable and accelerate
learning. Occasionally a fun theme related to a holiday or season is fine, but in
general it's best to relate the theme to the content so that students can clearly see
the purpose behind it.
A variation of the previous idea is to use different colored adhesive stickers (dots and
stars are available at most office or teaching supply stores). Place one sticker in the
corner of each student's nametent, nametag, or on a handout.
Determine the number of students in the class and select a prop that comes in a variety
of colors. For instance, if the class is on customer service, use erasers or stickers
in the shape of a telephone. For a class on motivation and procrastination, incorporate
a "Round TUIT" chip or sticker. Make sure your have enough props to designate even
teams. Randomly place one prop each student's table location.
Quick ways to designate leaders
Choose the person:
- who got up earliest that morning
- with the oldest/youngest child
- with the most pets
- with the birthday closest to the date of the class
- who drove farthest/least distance to the class
- who has the most/least siblings
- who has been married the longest/shortest period of time
- who has visited the most states/countries
- who has been with their organization longest/shortest period of time
- who flew on a plane closest to the date of the class
- who has read a non-job related book/article in the past month
- who has been to a theater to see a movie closest to the date of the class
- who has the oldest/newest car
- who had the smallest high school senior class
- who has on the most dark/light colored clothing
- who exercised most in the past week
- who has on the most jewelry
- who has the shortest/longest last names
- who lives closest to another family member (other than in the same house)
- with the longest/shortest hair
- who has moved their residence most recently
- who has lived in their current apartment/house longest
Enlist new students' help at graduation ceremonies. This promotes involvement in a
school activity while also reminding them with enthusiasm about their own goals.
Provide students with a list of planned activities and material to be covered during the week, along with corresponding book resource material. Also include scheduled dates for tests or assignments.
When used wisely, humor gets the class's attention and enhances the student/teacher relationship.
Every once in a while, ask students how the class may be improved.
Instill a sense of curiosity into the learning process by sharing material and concepts
from everyday life, including realistic future work situations.
A great icebreaker is to write the names of characters (movie stars, musicians,
cartoon characters, famous people . . .) on name tags, enough for one per person.
Place the name tag on the back of each person. While they mix with the rest of the
group, ask them to figure out who they are by asking only "yes" and
Create an Olympics style "Ratings Game" to get students involoved and evaluate class
material. Give each student an oversized playing card or a several pieces of stiff
paper. Students evaluate ideas by flashing their ratings.
Humor is an amusing and effective teaching tool. Psychologist turned "edutainer"
Dr. Herb True in his book Humor Power*
said that humor releases tensions, eliminates hostility, opens channels to others,
shows us how to communicate clearly and reminds us when we aren't communicating.
* Doubleday, August 1980, ASIN 0385146183
Use mental imagery to get a point across particularly if the class is having a
hard time grasping an idea. The more bizarre the images used within the images, the
more readily people remember the information.
To reinforce new information, hold a trial: Have a 'judge,' 'jury,' 'prosecutor' and
'attorneys' introduce new products, new policies and defend management practices;
have a gavel and robe; and call witnesses.
Enhance memory recall while at the same time helping people get introduced to one
another. If room is circular or a similar setup where each person can physically see the
entire group, the leader starts by saying "My name is (Ed)." The first person to his
left then says, "My name is (Sarah)," repeats the first name and restates her own
(Ed, Sarah). The process is repeated throughout the group. Reassure your participants
that they can actually accomplish this feat. It has been successfully done in groups
as large as 100.
For brainstorming encourage the free exchange of all ideas among the group.
Initiate a non-judicial, non-threatening, creative exercise where small groups
ideate goals and solutions.
Basic brainstorming ground rules:
- No critical judgment permitted.
- Free-wheeling welcomed. The wilder the idea, the better.
- Quantity, not quality, desired.
- Combination and improvement of ideas are sought.
To maximize information sharing in short time spans break up the group into smaller
sub-groups of about six people. Have them discuss a given topic for six minutes. Each group
reports on shared ideas. To maximize participation choose a chairman, a secretary
and maybe even a third person as a "reporter" to speak to the larger group.
Teachers have incredible and lasting effects on their students. Think of the impact
some of your teachers had on you. Take advantage of the opportunity to create a
lasting positive image with your students by building their self-esteem. Give them
much verbal praise and use confidence-building phrases and actual pats on the back
for good work.
Assign students homework involving going to a massage supply store and buying something
they need in their practices. By doing this students expose themselves to the various
equipment available, costs and also introduce them to other professionals in a different
arena within their chosen field.
When students ask negative questions or respond in a negative way, answer their questions
in a positive way. Reverse the negative into a positive so it leaves them thinking
positively. It helps students learn to see the good in everything and everyone.
Students often wonder about the relevance of information given in classes to their eventual
careers. In light of this give them real-life examples of how it is useful. Do a role-play
situation to convey the information through a client interview, or explain different ways
in which this lesson is helpful in a session, in doing public speaking, or just in presenting
oneself more powerfully.
Involve as many senses as possible in your teaching experience. If students can feel it,
touch it, smell it, look at it or hear it, they are more likely to remember it. Every
opportunity you can take to involve students in participating actively helps them retain
On the first day of class devote the first 10 minutes to asking people to introduce
themselves to their neighbor. Then ask people to introduce their neighbor to the
class. This allows time for students to become acquainted with each other while also
providing a more enthusiastic way for introductions to be made.
Group activities can be used for a number of different reasons such as discussing topics,
performing tasks, brainstorming, tutoring, and problem solving. The most effective group
activities involve five to six people. The most appropriate seating arrangements differ
depending on the focus. Always have the different groups report their progress or
findings to the larger group.
Encourage students to ask questions whenever they arise, not just at the end of the
course. When questions are asked, repeat them so all can hear them before you respond.
Also, remember that no questions are stupid, so find the merit and mention it with every
One of the best ways to inspire learning and better retention of that information is to
encourage class participation. An idea to help all people feel freer to speak up is to
make the room less formal in its structure.
For example, if all chairs are set up singularly and in rows, move the chairs around
tables. Also, as a teacher, make positive remarks that either mirror or affirm what
students say, so it instigates further participation from others.
Ask each student to create a 10-question quiz on recent material covered in class. The
teacher chooses 10 questions from the combined test question bank and presents the quiz,
which all students are well-prepared to succeed.
Another game to stimulate classroom participation, and a little spice to the learning
process, involves setting up teams to compete against one another, all with the basic
goal of reinforcing the day's lesson plan.
Students on each team prepare questions from information learned that day and challenge
the other team to correctly answer the question. After a number rounds the team with the
most correct answers wins. Be sure to tell both teams that everyone wins because it was
really about learning the material.
Continually encourage students to strive toward ongoing learning even after they graduate.
Emphasize that learning is a lifelong process, that it always benefits them to further
their training and knowledge while keeping them fresh and enthused about their work.
At the start of a new semester play a fun and quick game that introduces students
to each other in a positive way. The teacher initiates the game by saying his
name and favorite hobby. The next person repeats the teacher's name and hobby, and
then shares her name and hobby. Go around the room until all have been introduced.
Whenever teaching students a new procedure, show them how to do it and immediately let
them practice on each other. Students of massage and other healing arts therapies are
probably more kinesthetically oriented, and enjoy learning new tasks when
Handouts can serve as helpful learning tools for test reviews as well as reinforce
special points made in class.