How to Give Your Students Exactly What They Want

Greetings and Welcome!

As teachers we want to influence our students in a positive way. We want to make an impact in a way that will stick with them throughout many areas of their lives. I believe this to be the only possible when we can give our students exactly what they want, right? Wouldn’t you agree that by giving them what they want in the classroom you can therein better influence the results of their education?

Sometimes the idea of “giving students what they want” can be misconstrued and misunderstood. Teachers may think that by giving the student what he wants is giving into the student. Well, first, we must understand that a healthy student-teacher relationship is not when the teacher is against or above the student. Meaning, a teacher should never think as though he has a hierarchical status that looms over the student he is teaching. If this is the case, the teacher should prepare for combatant student behavior. So first, we must become comfortable with ourselves as guides versus superior teachers. Once this shift has taken place only then can we grasp the idea of giving students what they want.

Three Keys to Giving Students What They Want in a Way That Educationally Benefits Them:

  1. Know Thy Student to Best Serve Him: In order for use to best serve our students we must first know them. We must know their goals and aspirations for the future. We must know their strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, we must know how they learn. In order to give them what they want we must understand how they learn best. Some, learn best with oral, reading or activity based learning. Once we have located their style of learning we can integrate what they want with what we want them to learn. Once this is achieve, a win-win situation is achieved.
  2. What They Want vs. What You Think They Want: This can be common misconception. What they want is more often than not very different from what you want. This is why teachers run into combatant behavior from their student so frequently. The student wants to learn but wants to be entertained, for example. Or; the student wants to learn but be acknowledged for doing good work. What the student wants is linked to the type of feedback the student wants as a result of their actions. Meaning, after they have learned something from you, what type of response are they wanting? Praise for good work? Or; praise for how they did their work? This will directly relate to the psychology of your student. You might need to ask questions like; Are they insecure about their abilities? Do they require more help creativity? These questions will only be answer as you spend more time with you student. Again, you will need to get to know your students more in order to understand what they want. Once you have understood their psychology more clearly you can then act to understand what they want more clearly. Some might want to play games the entire class, while other rather read. This will be a matter of unique temperament amongst the unique personalities your students exhibit.
  3. Give Them What They Want Wrap Up in Educational Paper: I’m a massive fan of capsules! Capsules are what I call it when I wrap a new concept up in a known capsule wrapped up in something that they student wants. Example:
  • The student enjoys playing games.
  • Is confident about abilities.
  • Knows basic musical scales.

This would odiously be a young student that thinks she can conquer the world. Therefore, I would introduce a new concept by playing a game that incorporates her knowledge of scales, encouraging her achievements within the game and, sneaking in a “bonus challenge” of being able to write a short song within a timed “bonus” segment” of the game. Did you catch it? The new concept is, composition. Moreover, I want her to learn more about how music is constructed, with a hint of inspiration that she too can create a song from the musical scales she knows.

This, my friend, is giving the students what they want in a way that they simultaneously learn in a constructive manner. They win – you win, it’s a win-win situation and, lives are changed forever.

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