How Do I Keep My Students Interested? General by Joel Wagner - June 9, 2007June 13, 20120 This article is part 3 of the series Questions That Will Save Your Career. Please read the other articles in the series. How Do I Keep My Students Quiet? How Do I Keep My Students Engaged? How Do I Keep My Students Interested? How Do I Keep My Students Learning? How Do I Keep My Students Away From Me? How Do I Keep My School Administration Happy? How Do I Keep My Sanity? 10 Years of Teaching: How Do I Keep My Students Quiet? 10 Years of Teaching: How Do I Keep My Students Engaged? 10 Years of Teaching: How Do I Keep My Students Interested? 10 Years of Teaching: How Do I Keep My Students Learning? 10 Years of Teaching: How Do I Keep My Students Away From Me? 10 Years of Teaching: How Do I Keep My School Administration Happy? 10 Years of Teaching: How Do I Keep My Sanity? How do you keep them interested? Maintaining interest in the subject matter is clearly one of the best things you can do for your teaching. If you are asked to give a speech, you want the audience to be receptive to the content of the speech. As a teacher, you must have an audience who listens and is interested in what you do. If you don’t, then you are in for a very long and miserable year. Or two years. Or a long career.So we must come up with things that we can do that will help to encourage and actively promote a high level of interest from the children we teach. What are some of these specific things you can do to help them be more interested? Relate the content to their lives “Why do I have to learn this?” If you are ever asked that question and don’t have an answer for it, other than, “because I said so,” then you have lost credibility. Why do we need to know grammar? Because it will help you be successful in life. Why do we need to know math? So people don’t cheat us out of our money! Why do we need to learn about the arts? To gain a greater understanding of cultures and history. And on it goes. Relate your life to the content Learn to be a story-teller. Although I strive to minimize talking, I still believe that an appropriately timed story can work wonders in encouraging and increasing interest in your subject. I make it a point to share with my classes whenever my dogs do funny things. Sometimes I am able to relate music to it, but other times, it’s just me telling a story. One of the Language Arts teachers at my school came up to me at the end of the year and told me about how her students were all writing a few paragraphs about their electives and sharing them with her and with each other. She said that a lot of them wrote wonderful stuff about band and about me and my dogs. Have fun This will make you enjoy your job more. When you enjoy your job, interest levels will go up with the students. When you have fun, you’ll go home happier at the end of the day. That’s a great thing. Smile Smiling is a result of having fun. I get too serious some of the times and don’t smile. I’ve had students ask me if I’m upset or tell me to smile more. It’s good for your health. Laugh and get them laughing Children love laughing. Adults love laughing. Laughing is good for your health too. Be funny. If you can handle it, make fun of yourself. Come up with nicknames for the students. Let them help you make up nicknames. One of the best ways to reduce tension in a stressful situation is to add levity. Because I don’t smile enough, I was told by a handful of students this year that they knew I wasn’t mad only after I would use one of their nicknames. It works. So, some of these things will help to raise student interest. Some of them will also help to raise teacher interest. The more interested you are in doing the job, the more likely they will be interested. And the more you will enjoy going home at nights and looking back on the accomplishments of the day. Joel WagnerJoel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.