3 Ways Teachers Can Encourage Passion for Learning This Semester

This post is part of a month-long series to help you start 2018 on the right foot. Throughout January, visit the Varsity Tutors blog for advice, tips, and tricks on how to reignite your passion for learning this winter.

Amid homework, tests, and grades, encouraging student passion for learning can be one of a teacher’s trickiest tasks. Often, it seems like you have to choose between meeting academic goals in a dry, boring way, and developing fun activities that are only marginally educational. However, you can have it both ways. Teachers can encourage a passion for learning in a variety of ways, such as incorporating real-life elements into study and encouraging students’ personal interests.  

Encourage passion for learning by assigning creative assessments 

Traditional assessment methods include exams, long and short essays, science lab reports, and the like. These assessments are relatively simple to grade, but they often leave limited room for students to explore their interests. This semester, consider experimenting with different types of assessments that could spark your students’ passions. For example, in addition to a book report, you could have your students select one of the following assessments: 

  • Create a comic inspired by the source text.
  • Write a brief play that explores one character’s motivations.

You might tap into your school’s resources and your students’ tech-savvy skills by having them respond in the form of blog posts, video logs (also known as vlogs), or other kinds of social media. Depending on the flexibility of your administration, you might be able to replace more traditional assignments or simply include a variety of assessments that will speak to students’ different learning styles and interests. 

[RELATED: 3 Emerging EdTech Tools That Can Spark an Interest in Learning]

Encourage passion for learning by incorporating real-life elements

A common student complaint is that what they learn in school doesn’t apply to them, or that they’ll never have to use the information. While it’s important that students engage with material that they don’t necessarily find interesting—as well as understand that no topic will be interesting to every student—a great strategy to spark interest in learning is to incorporate real-life elements into your classroom. 

This can manifest in a range of ways, such as having students simply make connections between the material and their own lives. Other ideas include developing projects around relationships students can make with pen pals or organizations in their community. A unit could culminate with a field trip, or a field trip could spark a unit that further delves into the things students saw on the trip. Bring in speakers from that specific field of study, and don’t forget to give your own testimony of how you experience class material in the real world. 

[RELATED: Resources New Teachers Can Use Next Semester]

Encourage passion for learning by supporting students’ personal interests

Wherever you can, encourage students’ personal interests so that they can individualize their learning and, hopefully, want to seek out a more in-depth understanding of a topic or topics. While a breadth of knowledge is great, knowing something in-depth helps you understand specific material to a greater extent. For example, if a child loves comics, encourage them to read more comics. From reading them, they’ll learn more about dialogue, visual space, and genre more than they would from reading a wide range of books that they don’t necessarily enjoy. If you’re able to, focus your curriculum on inquiry-based learning, in which students complete projects in pursuit of a question they’re wondering about. Encourage questions, which open up possibilities into learning, rather than answers, which can sometimes preclude nuances and a depth of understanding.

Another great resource for ideas that can encourage student passion is the other teachers at your school. What have they tried before that you could also put your personal touch on? You might be able to collaborate with another teacher or a group of teachers to create projects that cross subjects and speak to more students.

[RELATED: 4 Ways Personalized Learning Positively Impacts Students]


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