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Steal my 3 secrets which can make your NCEA lessons incredible! Part 1

The next three blogs are a series of secrets that have contributed to making my lessons incredible.

Today’s blog is about relevance in the classroom.

Research suggests that when a student learns something that is meaningful for them, then they are going to place more enthusiasm into the tasks.

Here is an incredible lesson that is developed when a teacher is precise and confident with what they are teaching.
Incredible NCEA lessons are developed when an NCEA teacher is precise and confident with what they are teaching.

Here is my first secret:

Let NCEA students know what they will take away from the activity.

During my early years of teaching, I had this one class which would not do their work without persuasion. I tried strategies from all kinds of teachers. I was firm, I was giving them chocolates, I was changing up the content and even doing the work with them. I felt like I was pushing a rock up a hill every lesson. Until I learned this great trick... Every time I instructed something, I had to say how the students would benefit from it.

For example,


I would say: We are going to do a warm up, who wants to lead the dance with me?

Their reply: Nope. Uhhh. Why? Can’t we just go and practice now?


I would say: We are going to begin our lesson with a warm up. I would like two leaders to lead the warm up with me so you can practice leading a dance and practice performing in front of others. If you see yourself as being a dance teacher when you leave school, this is a great way to practice. If you know the dance and want to help your friends learn it, leading the dance means they can feel safe following you.

Their reply: I’m keen. Can I do it? Can I lead it tomorrow? You don’t have to do it with me - I know the dance.

I let this idea lead how I taught from then on. Even to this day, in my tutorials, I find more success and enthusiasm comes from two things I do:

1.) Reassure them that they are on the right track 2.) The secret: Make sure I tell them why we are going to do the activity.

For example,

I will say to my students that “we are going to practice selecting an exam question so that on the day, you will know what to do as soon as the exam starts. If you follow through the process that we will practice, then you won’t feel overwhelmed. Instead, you will be determined because you will have a plan and process already developed with me before you enter the exam”. When I say this to my students, they feel less worried about their NCEA exams, feel like their tutorials are meaningful (which they are!) and they feel more inclined to try their best because they want to make sure they’ll be ok on the day.

So, give it a go during your lesson. Every time you give an instruction ask yourself “why are we doing this?” and then share the answer with your students.

Students love purpose. They like knowing there is value in what they are doing.

Best of luck with your lessons. See my next two secrets here and here.

Tovah O'Neill

Tovah’s Tutoring

NCEA exam prep available now:



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