There’s an old Chinese proverb which says that teachers can only open doors, students have to enter by themselves. While that may be true, there are plenty of ways to make it easier to get through the metaphorical door and improve student productivity.
And the metaphorical door is even more of a reality during a pandemic.
But while the traditional classroom situation is in a state of uncertainty, teachers are working harder than ever to keep morale, and student productivity high.
Admittedly, there is no guaranteed recipe for creating a highly productive classroom.
But there are concrete, practical steps that teachers and schools can take which are proven to keep students happy, engaged, and above all, productive.
Embracing Technology enhances Student Productivity
Students of today – the digital natives – expect technology as standard.
It’s not just the students, either. More than 90% of teachers say the internet improves their access to lesson content, resources, and materials.
And the pandemic has posed some serious challenges to all kinds of students. Loss of access to in-class lesson time being a key problem. In fact, it has led to 70% of the world’s students being left out of schools.
That’s why many teachers have embraced streamable lessons, using platforms such as Zoom (which we are all very familiar with by now). The upshot is that students can continue to learn on a regular schedule and not lose any valuable learning time.
In a similar vein, pre-recorded lessons also let students from different time zones learn at their own convenience.
Another highly effective technology method schools are using, is by introducing digital signage to the classroom for when physical lessons are running. This can improve their students’ education and improve communication between teachers, students, and parents.
Digital signage offers an effective way of engaging with students in a way that they are accustomed to. You can use it to seek their views, share documents and lesson materials, or even run quizzes.
It can also be used as the base for traditional teaching, for example sharing interesting content that informs class discussions.
During these times, it’s important to control the flow of people throughout a school. Digital signage can show students and teachers where they need to go and how to move safely around a school.
Keeping students – and parents – informed helps keep schools running smoothly. Digital signage makes it easy to keep everyone up-to-date, and if plans or dates change, it couldn’t be easier to make sure the whole school community knows.
Head Outside to Freshen up
Studies show that learning outdoors has real benefits.
Students may feel stressed with the added movement restrictions in a classroom setting, as a result of the pandemic.
Outdoor learning reduces stress, improves mood, boosts concentration, and increases engagement with learning. When schools take students outside, they are more motivated and self-directed.
What’s more, those benefits continue even after they come back inside.
That’s right: getting students outside increases their focus, and this continues even once they’re back in the classroom, making them work more productively.
If you’re new to outdoor learning, some planning is required initially. Teachers and students need to prepare for all kinds of weather – working towards an outdoor gear lending library can be a good idea. Other than that, it’s best to start simple – a reading session, for example – and just get out there.
The key is not to treat outdoor learning as an ‘add on’ to the curriculum. Instead, see it as a tool for teaching and learning which provides a different way of covering the curriculum – one which is proven to enhance student productivity.
Making Things Visual improves engagement
The use of visual aids in the classroom stimulates critical thinking, makes learning more engaging and helps students understand and remember what they’re being taught.
In fact, bringing visual elements into the classroom has been shown to improve both math and reading performance.
It’s no surprise. Most people – adults included – find it easier to understand concepts that are represented with an image or via a video than through a text description.
Using visual aids in the classroom isn’t an especially new concept, but it is one that has been given a boost in recent years thanks to huge advances in technology. Interactive whiteboards, infographics created using the latest software, and slideshows and other creative presentations are all commonplace in today’s classrooms.
And with students sitting further apart and perhaps less able to see the front of the classroom clearly, visual aids are a great way of adding depth to a lesson and increasing visibility.
Digital signage software helps here, too, offering an easy way to display a wide range of content and images. These can be viewed immediately, interrogated by students and updated in real-time by teachers – and students, if you permit them.
Recognize and Reward
Inspiring students to succeed is perhaps the most important aspect of teaching. Recognizing achievement is central to this.
Students who feel that their participation and achievements are recognized in tangible ways feel proud, appreciated, and happy. What’s more, it motivates them to work harder.
A recent study from Chegg.org has shown that almost 50% of students have reported suffering from anxiety as a direct result of the pandemic. The impact on mental health can’t be underestimated.
Motivation and positive affirmation can go a long way to supporting and enhancing student productivity during this tricky time.
And achievement might not always be academic. Sporting success, artistic endeavors, or outstanding community contributions all count – and should all be acknowledged.
There are lots of ways schools can recognize achievement. A simple thanks can go a long way.
But a public acknowledgment (which can be carried out digitally, of course) goes even further. Certificates, pin badges, and trophies are all valuable ways of showing appreciation for students’ achievement.
Digital signage is also a great tool for recognizing success. It’s immediate – outstanding performance can be shared in minutes. You can showcase good work and share that outstanding artwork or musical performance. Plus the whole school sees and hears about it, sending a positive message to the entire student community.
Give Students a Voice
Just like adults in the workplace, students are at their best when they have a sense of control and ownership over their work.
Giving students a voice in how they learn makes them feel valued. They’re more likely to concentrate and actively participate. And it will help them develop other important life skills – like critical thinking, collaboration, and negotiation.
Inviting students to help shape lessons doesn’t mean handing over the classroom or letting them do whatever they want.
Guided questions – “which part of this math project do you need to do first”, for example – can help focus students on what they need to achieve while giving them a say in how they get there.
You can go further and give them complete free reign to think of creative ideas that make learning fun if you want to.
What’s crucial is that schools and teachers have the final say. But embracing your students’ creativity engages them in the whole learning process – and that can reap productivity rewards.
There are no guarantees of student productivity. As the Chinese proverb says, only students themselves can make it happen. What schools and teachers can do is provide the environment, the inspiration, and the tools to make it possible.