Seeing the ‘spark’ in the eyes of students can indeed make a teacher’s day and give him/her that satisfaction which is the privilege of good teachers. But, what exactly does ‘spark’ in the eyes of students mean? It’s an expression meaning many things. It means the sense of wonder, inspiration, curiosity, and enthusiasm for learning, which you catch as a gleam or spark in the eyes of students as they take in the lesson. It means you hear them laugh, gasp, or experience some other collective emotion while you are teaching. It is when you are leading a Read Aloud, the recess bell rings, and the students yell, ‘Don’t stop reading, Miss!!!’ Whatever it is, you know it when you see it, and it probably makes your eyes sparkle, too.
Why the ‘Spark’ is Important
Students’ interest in the form of ‘spark’ in their eyes does really matter because (Djoub, 2018):
1. Interested students are more focused, follow their teachers, pay attention to all details, and show respect.
2. Interested students participate in class, do assignments, want to learn more, think, initiate and share ideas with others.
3. Interested students try to improve and overcome the difficulties and challenges that hinder their learning.
4. Interested students energize and inspire teachers to think, innovate and further their professional development. They can also reach out to other students.
5. Interested students enjoy learning, so they are likely to extend their goals beyond attaining academic success and become lifelong learners.
What Can You Do to Create that ‘Spark’ in the Eyes of Students?
Here are a few things you as a teacher can do to ensure that the ‘spark’ returns to the eyes of students (Nelson Education, n.d.) (Djoub, 2018):
• Get to know your students: You must know your students’ learning styles, what they already know, what they need to know, what kind of learning experience they have, their opinions concerning the subject matter you teach, etc. This will help you to select relevant content, differentiate instructions and thus captivate students’ interest in the course. You can administer questionnaires to students, do interviews, and observe them along your courses to know them more.
• Value your job and role: You can capture students’ interest when you value your job by showing how much love, concern, and dedication you have for it, and when your interest and enthusiasm become the defining traits of your characters and attitudes. Students’ interest is also sustained when you value each and every content you introduce by clarifying the relevance of such content at the beginning of each lesson, cueing students on important points, and stressing the importance of knowing, doing and creating something meaningful to their learning. Express how valuable your teaching is through your attitudes and passion, and not merely through words.
• Be flexible. Digression from rigid plans provides fabulous learning opportunities. Students have so much to offer when they can think “out of the box.”
• Make real-world connections.
• Give interesting, interactive assignments.
• Spend more time teaching and then reinforcing the basics at the beginning of the course, which will allow them to learn easily the advanced topics.
• Inspire them through inquiry, POEs, demos, and visitors.
• Encourage the students to think critically about the world around them, including the text in front of them.
• Give them a voice in the classroom.
• Use humor and personal stories to involve the students.
• Let students discover things on their own, and then debrief. Textbooks can help. But, do not underestimate what students can do.
• Treat every child with the love and respect they deserve.
• Be humble, and give of your time generously.
• Inspire curiosity: Introducing students to content that inspires curiosity is necessary to spark their interest. But, how to select that content? Curiosity is stirred by self-directed and passion-driven learning. Inspiring content for students’ curiosity
(1) Empowers students to create and share their own resources, gives them a space to voice their opinions,
(2) Calls for their critical minds, and
(3) Motivates them to produce more and not just consume information. To integrate effectively such content, do not devote the entire time to teaching towards the curriculum. Connect students’ learning to their passion, providing them with opportunities to think, collaborate, share and create while respecting them and valuing their work. You can even go beyond the standards and plan for genius hour for your students where they follow their passion and create their own projects (make podcasts, PBL, do presentations, etc.).
• Upgrade yourself to the next level: Attending conferences, taking professional development courses, listening to podcasts, and reading can make you more familiar with the education trends. This is a source of empowerment because it makes you more professional, flexible, innovative and thus likely to stimulate students’ interest in learning.
Call To Action
Butterfly Fields can help you create the ‘spark’ in the eyes of your students. As a winner of the 2019 IDA Corporate Award, from among 400 nominations, for its “Commendable work in the overall development of students by offering holistic learning tools, products, services, and solutions” it knows a thing or two about creating that ‘spark’. So, get in touch with us to set things in motion in the direction you desire.
Djoub, Z., 2018. 4 Key ideas to spark students’ interest and make teaching an unforgettable experience. [Online]
Available at: https://edulearn2change.com/article-4-key-ideas-to-spark-students-interest-and-make-teaching-an-unforgettable-experience/
[Accessed 14 October 2019].
Nelson Education, n.d. Nelson Education is celebrating its 100th Anniversary in Canada!. [Online]
Available at: http://www.nelson.com/site/spark/
[Accessed 14 October 2019].