A productive school year begins with competent planning and classroom management techniques. Teachers create the classroom environs in which students thrive. How can we build and sustain student engagement within these classrooms?
According to the Glossary of Education Reform, student engagement is the degree of attention, curiosity, optimism, interest and passion that students demonstrate when they are learning or being taught. It influences the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education.
This concept is based on the belief that students learn best when they are interested, inquisitive or inspired. In the same vein, student learning and performance suffers when students are bored or “disengaged.”
Student Engagement: 8 Strategies to Try
Concepts, mandated curriculum, and state standards may be set in your school. Nevertheless, teachers can still influence the delivery of material, and provide lessons that reflect the interests and learning styles of students. Here are some thoughts to improve student engagement within any class.
1. Allow students guided options in how they would like to learn the material.
Give them more say in choosing a topic to investigate and write about. Let them collaborate on Pinterest boards to organize, comment, and share materials. Sign up to Melissa Hiltner’s Pinterest board for some fresh ideas and make and manage your own grade-wide board in collaboration with fellow teachers and parents.
2. Let them choose how to demonstrate what they learned.
Multimedia presentations, such as using audio and video, to demonstrate concepts help tie in today’s technology in the classroom for more student engagement.
3. Get them thinking.
Pose a problem with a short description. Students must investigate in order to develop a solution (ex: What can be done to curb or utilize a certain local invasive species?) Have students create prototypes to solve a physical problem. Students want to do be empowered to create solutions.
4. Create an environment that allows exploration and multiple “right” choices.
Students should not have to feel penalized for making a mistake, but rather motivated to eliminate one more way that doesn’t work in the quest to find their solution. Scholastic helps to get teachers in the mindset to think about exploring possibilities in the search of the solution.
5. Offer school advisories and peer mentoring.
These are ways to promote positive social engagement and create an environment that is more welcoming to those with different abilities and backgrounds.
6. Create a positive emotional climate.
Ask about their feelings and have them reflect upon a project or a situation, such as bullying. Be open and available to them if they should seek the advice of an adult. Many students have no one to talk to about troubling personal or family problems. When students are troubled, they are more prone to misbehave and less able to concentrate on tasks and may show poor student engagement. Teachers and counselors are important individuals in helping children handle their specific situation.
7. Build routines and cues into your classroom.
A classroom routine creates the necessary structure that supports child development and offers a sense of comfort for younger students. They know what to expect next. This is important when students come from disadvantaged or ever-changing backgrounds. Cues and games help to refocus a classroom when attention drifts away.
8. Incorporate movement into activities.
Getting up and getting the blood flowing is a nice way for children to use some “kinesthetic” and hands-on learning, and expend a little energy. Adults need to change positions and activities within a day. Why wouldn’t children have similar needs?
Teachers can empower students to actively learn and get the most from the learning environment. Start with these suggestions, and begin to incorporate your own. Then watch your levels of student engagement soar.