|Lion tamer greeting|
Lion tamers rarely just "get to it." They instead take a moment to connect with each animal in the training session. They literally talk to them and give them a pat or rub. Lions LOVE rubs! This engages the animal in a way that helps them focus on the trainer and on the training environment. It also sets a positive, engaging mood in which to begin the "real work" of the session.
Then a lion tamer will ask each animal to repeat a behavior they have recently learned. Or perhaps an older behavior that relates somehow to the new behavior that will be the focus of that training session. This gives the animal a sense of success and accomplishment. Of course, it also brings to their consciousness the whole idea of performing and following directions. If it's a behavior that relates to the day's lesson, then there's an added benefit . . . it gives them some practice in movements that they'll shortly be asked to do.
Beginning with a positive introduction and a quick review of previous learning is also a useful strategy in the classroom.
Engaging your students in some friendly banter before the class starts is a smooth way to get their attention focused on you and the learning environment. And it sure beats an off-putting shout to "sit down and shut up!" I can't stress this "engagement" concept enough. It enhances classroom discipline and, more importantly, enhances student learning. Unless and until you can engage your learners, you're going to have a tough time!
A quick review doesn't have to take long. It could take many forms. In my anatomy and physiology lectures, I usually start by summarizing the main points of the previous class session. I may have some extra words about a concept that serves as the foundation for the new topic about to be addressed. I may even pose a clicker question on a review topic, just to get everyone back in the groove of that previous topic.
By connecting yourself to your students and recalling a previous topic or two at the beginning of each class, you'll find that your classes work better and that student learning improves!