How do you inspire your students

Sources of inspiration for teaching

Routines are helpful and valuable. They give you structure and a secure framework. But there are many areas in life in which you can and should change your habits every now and then in order to draw fresh energy from them. So don't just try to choose new perspectives and approaches in your day-to-day work, but also get used to them in your free time - even if you are "actually quite satisfied".

The more consciously and often you decide to do things differently than usual, the easier this attitude becomes part of your flesh and blood. And, yes, that means that you have to leave your comfort zone and maybe just mess something up. This will not have bad consequences - on the contrary: Failure on a small scale is an important element of positive change. Take it with humor. And sometimes a completely unprepared, improvised lesson actually works out much better and has far more value for your students than your tried and tested lesson scheme. You should be aware of such moments, because they are there to give you courage.

Just give it a try with an accessible class that you can get along with: Come to class completely unprepared and be open to what happens. Ask your students what interests and concerns them at the moment. Collect suggestions for how to deal with the content of a specific topic. Let yourself be surprised, stay flexible, but keep the scepter in your hand. Of course, this approach shouldn't become the norm, but you will be amazed at the new insights it can bring you.

Current events are particularly good starting points for an improvised lesson. Did you hear something on the radio on the way to school that you couldn't let go of? Then ask yourself whether it makes sense to integrate the lessons. This does not mean that you should rob your students with permanent thematic jumps. Rather, it is about a basic willingness that is worthwhile because it has in mind a greater relationship between real life and teaching.

Our practical guide "99 Tips: Lesson Preparation" will also help you to keep your lessons lively and to creatively question conventional processes and techniques.

Each class has its own characteristics and needs. Even in a subject such as history, where at first glance hardly anything changes - at least if you look at the professional competence to be imparted - it is important to tailor the preparation of the lessons to the respective learning group. Therefore, answer the following questions before planning each lesson and lesson:

  • What prior knowledge does this group have on the topic?
  • Which class entry suits the learning group?
  • What current relation does this class have to the topic or where should this be established?
  • Where is the relation to the real life of the students?
  • Why is the topic important to this class?
  • Which media, texts, books, audio examples, worksheets, tasks, games can be used most effectively in this group?
  • Which social form is the right one for this group?
  • How can the work results be best summarized and presented in this group?

Go through this checklist again and again in order to optimally adjust to the respective class.

With a full-time position, it is almost impossible to constantly check your proven lesson plans to see whether they still meet the current requirements and, if necessary, to replace them with completely new ones. Usually you are happy to have access to material that has worked well in the past. On the other hand, many teachers lose fun in their work over the years because they have the feeling that they can no longer meet the high demands of a rapidly changing world, shaped by digital media and rapid progress at all levels.

Standing still is not the solution, but don't make life too difficult for yourself either. Try to find a healthy compromise. A middle ground that suits you and with which you will be satisfied in the long term. This can mean working out two to three hours from scratch per class week, which corresponds to around ten percent of the class for a full position. If you don't undertake too much and take a breather, you will find that your motivation to develop something completely new increases.

Often it is not necessary to redesign the whole lesson or lesson at all. Sometimes even small changes are enough, for example by making better use of existing media or thinking up a new class opening. Here are some inspirations:

  • Instead of working individually or in pairs, have the work sheet worked on in group work that is equal to each other.
  • Instead of reading the text with the whole group, have the students underline key words and then ask your questions about the text in writing rather than orally.
  • Change your perspective. Have a student or two responsibly do their jobs by asking questions or showing something on the map.
  • Don't just do the experiment, let the students work out the experimental setup.
  • Clarify opposing positions from a text in the form of a role play.
  • Do not repeat verbally at the beginning of the lesson. Wrap up your refresher questions in a small quiz by phrasing them as statements. Your students have to stand up or stay seated depending on the answer (yes / no).
  • Present a picture or a short written statement to the class and then do nothing. Nothing at all. The group will be irritated and then start developing theories on their own.

Do you have a lot of ideas, but you do not have the specific materials that you can use in your class? Then first ask yourself what you mean by good teaching material. If you know what you want to convey and what you are looking for, you will very likely find what you are looking for - whether by doing research on the Internet, on a learning platform, on a portal like, in a magazine, with colleagues or with external cooperation partners and contact points that offer exactly what you want to deal with your students.

Caution: Remember copyright law in any alternative work material you use. Not all digital materials are license-free and therefore freely usable. Insightful information on the topic of Open Educational Resources (OER; freely accessible educational resources) is available here:

Sometimes, however, you can't think of anything. Then try the following. Write on a piece of paper: "I need an idea for the next ... lesson. The best idea will be awarded." Leave the note in the staff room without anyone noticing. You will be amazed at how many ideas come together, and there are probably also a few that are not very serious. Enjoy the wild speculations of your colleagues, who are puzzling over who might have written the note. And don't forget the bonus.

Our digital teaching and learning media can also inspire you and provide effective support in your lesson planning - and that with little effort:

We have a good laugh - humor as a learning accelerator ???
A healthy dose of humor and the ability to look at things from a different perspective are beneficial for your own mental hygiene and can also facilitate communication between you and your parents.