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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...
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Timeless Teachings

Good teaching stands the test of time.

Like a classic novel, great piece of music, or beautiful painting, the principles of effective teaching don't really change. Maybe the names of these methods change, maybe new buzz words are used to describe them, but the essence of these concepts remain untouched.

I was reminded of this recently when I dusted off an old book written by a teacher, who became famous for creating a magazine project with his students in the 1980s. I don't feel comfortable naming the teacher or going into greater detail since that teacher was later arrested and removed from the classroom.

However, the concepts outlined in the book can be used by anyone and can be found in all great lessons and projects. In fact, I mentally tested these concepts against successful lessons I have used with my students, and I discovered that these principles were involved --everytime.

My hope is thatby sharing these concepts, they will remind you of their importance or inspire you to begin designing your lessons with these principlesin mind.

A Larger Audience

Great lessons provide students with a larger audience, beyond the classroom. By expanding your audience, students become motivated and see the connection between their work and the real world. I first experienced this while teaching middle school. I required my students to write a letter to the editor, expressing their opinion on a proposal to require uniforms in middle school. They wrote passionately about the topic and were amazed when their letters appeared in the newspapers andgenerated additional discussion in the community.

Guest Speakers

Bringing guests into the classroom also makes for great lessons. Guest speakers share experience, providemotivation and help students tie the curriculum to the outside world. Recently, I invited a doctor from the local hospital to assist with my Hospital Day project, which involves students teaching about different body systems. My students were able to see firsthand how medical experts use knowledge of the body to treat and heal people.

Participation in the Process

Allowingstudents to vote on various projects and help design their own learning increases motivation and allowsthem to take responsibility for their own learning. One way to accomplish this is to allow students to vote on the type of project they want to complete. Another method is to allow students to choose ways to prepare and present information. When having teams of students make a presentation, I like to allow them to chose their own method of delivery, which may involve using technology such as slide shows, presenting a play, orperforming a song or a skit.

These are some of the concepts hiding within every great lesson. It's important to connect the curriculum to the real world by expanding outside the classroom and involving students in the process. That's when the real magic begins.

Join me at the Innovative Teaching group at http://community.educationworld.comcontent/timeless-teachings-0?gid=NTEyMQ== and share your ideas and thoughts on timeless teaching concepts.

Thank you,