We recently asked students to submit videos showing us what they’d do if they were “Instructor for a Day” for the chance to win up to $1,000 in scholarships. The results were fantastic – engaging videos that delighted, inspired and even made us laugh. They also made us think about how we can, as educators, better engage our students. Read the tips from the contest’s finalists below, and then review the list of “Instructor for a Day” contest winners.

Tip 1: Keep the students guessing.

Matthew Abeler at University of Northwestern of St. Paul shows how spontaneous dance movies can hold the attention of a classroom.

Tip 2: Use social media to keep students engaged with what they love.

LaRia Brent from Concordia University Wisconsin encourages instructors to meet the students where they are. Try using social media to have the students interact with the lesson through an activity you know they enjoy.

Tip 3: Have students show off their talents.

Steven Doung of Middlesex Community College demonstrates that singing, dancing, and a little competition are sure to spark creativity and keep learners engaged.

Tip 4: Discover your students’ passions.

Brittany Kovel at Kennesaw State University suggests asking, “What are you doing to achieve your goals?”

Tip 5: Motivate students with healthy competition.

Nathan Le from Houston Community College would promote a bit of healthy competition in the classroom, get students involved in the learning process, and show them why they should care about what they’re studying.

Tip 6: Show students how lessons apply to real-life situations.

Michael Lerzo of Georgia College and State University practices experiential learning by placing the students in situations that they’d encounter in their everyday lives.

Tip 7: Prove that you love what you’re teaching.

Kayla Orlinsky at Irvine Valley College believes that students will come to love what they’re learning if instructors make a special effort to emphasize the ways in which they connect with and become enthusiastic about the material.

Tip 8: Speak in an energetic voice!

Beau Parker from North Carolina State University suggests that professors should have energy, ask questions, and devote time to in-class activities.

Tip 9: Focus your lesson plan around students’ interests.

Summer Robinson of Lincoln Memorial University  asks, “If you were a student, how would you like to be engaged?” She refreshes the learning experience by using activities students love as a teaching strategy.

Tip 10: Grab the student’s attention and keep it.

Ashwin Vidiyala at the University of North Texas would capture the attention of the class with an animated and surprising opening gesture, then hold their attention by remaining enthusiastic throughout the lecture.


 “Instructor for a Day” contest winners