Empowering students encourages them to take responsibility of their learning. In doing so, students understand the impact of their decisions, increases self-esteem and gives them a voice in their education. It changes students’ perceptions about learning and promotes a positive learning environment. Empowerment also means teachers focusing on students’ strengths, valuing students’ experiences and providing opportunities for contribution.
There are many ways an educator can empower students. Let’s take a look at some:
- Allow Time to Discuss — Teachers should provide time for students to discuss the topic. Through discussion, students improve their learning and memory as well as build up the courage to voice their opinions.
- Ask for Feedback — This may be too critical, but it will get your students to break out of their shells and/or let you know what they need for better comprehension.
- Choose the Presentation — When students are able to choose how they want to present a project, they will learn the material better and use their creativity. If given a choice, a student may choose an option that pushes him or her outside of their comfort zone. For example, a student may choose to create a slideshow on the topic, demonstrating her technical skills.
- Give Guided Assignments — Students will be given a guided assignment on a topic before the lesson is taught in class. This pushes them to teach themselves and prepare for the lesson (i.e. create questions on the topic). It will also increase student engagement and confidence.
- Use their Passion — Find out what students are passionate about and use those topics to help them learn. For example, if a student is passionate about music, a teacher can use how learning music notes is like learning a new language. Or, by examining sound waves, a student can improve his understanding of fractions.
- Let Students Decide on the Curriculum — Letting students make a decision on one area of the curriculum is a great way for them to take ownership over their learning. For example, if the assignment is to write a literature response, let the student choose the book to write about. The book will provide a theme to be analyzed and it may further the student’s interest in reading other genres.
- Use Social Media — This may sound odd, but social media in the classroom can be beneficial. Students are told about the negatives on social media, so having them find a something positive would be a welcome change. Students can report on a great idea or story they found on social media. This increases student engagement as well as communication and technical skills.