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How to Teach a Lesson More Effectively

The more you teach, the better you will get at it (hopefully)! Subbing requires a lot of "on the job training". You learn things that went well and not so well along the way. Here are some tips about how teach a lesson more effectively! Give them a try! 


Before the lesson even starts, it's beneficial to have some sort of "hook" to get students' attention. This could be an interesting picture, an engaging video clip, a few sentences from a book you are about to read, or a question to get kids thinking. The trick is to be really excited about it (even if you are not). Your excitement will ignite enthusiasm in your students and peak their interest! 

Involve the Students

The days of students sitting in their desks while teachers lecture are long gone. Today's teachers involve the students in their learning as much as possible. Some teachers start their lessons asking what their students already know about a topic and what the need to know. This helps guide where the lesson is going to go. You don't need to spend the majority of your time teaching kids what they already know. Find out what they need or want to learn about a topic and go from there! 

Ask Great Questions

The trick to asking great questions is to not just ask questions that have obvious answers. If you are reading a book, do not just ask questions like, "Who are the characters?" "What is the setting?". We need to get children really thinking. Ask questions like, "Why do you think the character did that?" "What would you do if...?" 

If you are teaching older students, it's always a good idea to have them explain their thinking with question stems like, "How do you know that?" "Can you defend your position?" and "Can you explain ______?". 

Get up/Move

If you see students yawning, staring into space, or wiggling around, it is time to give them a "brain break". Brain breaks are used regularly in classrooms all over the country. Here are some effective "brain break" ideas:

Older students-

  • Stretching/yoga/exercise
  • A short game
  • 3 minutes to talk with friends/device time

Younger students-

  • Stretching/yoga/exercise
  • A short game
  • Listen and sing along to a song
  • Dance break 

*For dance breaks, you can search for "brain breaks". Pinterest is a good resource for this. You can also join a website called GoNoodle. It's free, interactive, and loads of fun! 


Don't just leave a lesson "hanging". You need to have some sort of closure. This could be a short discussion about what was learned or some kind of connection that the students made. For some reason, kids are fascinated with sticky notes! Always keep a pack in your sub bag. Your closure could be that students have to write down one thing they learned on the sticky note and then stick it somewhere in the classroom. I'm sure teachers would enjoy seeing the learning that took place when they return! 

We would love to hear what you have discovered about teaching effectively. What makes your lessons engaging and interesting? 


photo credit: Matt Kowal via photopin cc

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