This post has been updated as of December 2017.
Great teachers are nimble, observant, and responsive, always keeping an open mind about how to best engage their students and get them excited about learning—and that means considering trying out different interactive teaching styles in the classroom.
Interactive teaching styles are designed around a simple principle: without practical application, students often fail to comprehend the depths of the study material. Interactive teaching is also beneficial for you as the teacher in a number of ways, including:
Whereas students often lose interest during lecture-style teaching, interactive teaching styles promote an atmosphere of attention and participation. Make it interesting. Make it exciting. Make it fun. As you well know, telling is not teaching and listening is not learning.
The ARMA International Center for Education offers the following guidelines to express the focus of interactive educational teaching styles:
Now is the time to start bringing life into your teaching styles. Here are some of the most effective ways to engage your students.
Interactive brainstorming is typically performed in group sessions. The process is useful for generating creative thoughts and ideas. Brainstorming helps students learn to pull together. Types of interactive brainstorming include:
Establish a problem or a question, then pair your students. Give each pair sufficient time to form a conclusion, and permit each participant to define the conclusion in his or her personal voice. You can also request that one student explain a concept while the other student evaluates what is being learned. Apply different variations of the process—your students will be engaged, communicating, and retaining more information before your eyes.
Participants come together in session groups that focus on a single topic. Within each group, every student contributes thoughts and ideas. Encourage discussion and collaboration among the students within each group; everyone should learn from one another’s input and experiences.
This teaching style involves a case study format, but the process is not so rigid as a full case study training session. The focus is on learning how to solve real problems that involve real people—preparing your students for life beyond your classroom. Provide small groups of students with details from actual incidents and then ask them to develop a workable solution.
On the heels of every topic introduction, but prior to formal lecturing, ask your students to jot down questions pertaining to the subject matter on 3×5 index cards. After you collect the cards, mix them up and read and answer the student-generated questions.
Want more interactive teaching techniques? In a presentation on interactive teaching techniques, Kevin Yee from the University of Central Florida provides concise descriptions of 186 different approaches to interactive educational formats. Take a look—and have fun with them.