One of the biggest challenges that I have found as an educator is connecting with my students. Because I am an authority figure and have a responsibility to keep a professional distance from those I teach, it is hard to find a way to bypass this formality. However, I found that if I demonstrate my interest in seeing the world from my students’ point of view, that they are more willing to listen to what I have to say and they are more willing to at least make an attempt to reach the academic performance goals that I establish.
One strategy that I use to connect with my students is to connect current events and news items with the science and math concepts that are being covered in class. For example, during football season I like to create experiments that examine the physics and geometry of football. I also like to use math equations to examine the probabilities that certain teams will make it to the Super Bowl or to the playoffs.
Because I realize that not every student is interested in sports, I also like to use news items from the newspaper to develop classroom demonstrations, science experiments and classroom discussions. I think that this particular strategy makes science and math concepts more approachable and valuable to students. And because I am familiar with the issues and events that my students are talking about and interested in, they are more interested in what I have to say and they are more willing to participate in classroom activities and discussions.
If you are trying to connect with your students then I highly recommend that you try implementing current events, pop culture and news items into the designs of your classroom science experiments and demonstrations, energy science projects and your student science fair projects.