A productive school year happens when teachers employ competent planning and effective classroom management techniques. In doing so, they create the classroom environs in which students thrive. How can we ensure we’re keeping learners engaged 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. These in turn influence 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. Consequently student learning and performance will suffer when students are bored or disengaged.
Concepts, mandated curriculum, and state standards may be set in your school, and you may feel like your hands are tied sometimes. Nevertheless, teachers can still influence the delivery of the material and provide lessons that speak to their learners’ the interests and learning styles. Here are some thoughts on how best to make sure you’re keeping learners engaged in any class.
8 Simple Ways of Keeping Learners Engaged
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, can help with keeping students engaged through use of creativity. Let them demonstrate concepts by tying in today’s technology in the classroom to content and lessons in ways that are relevant and interesting to them.
3. Get them thinking: Students want to do be empowered to create solutions. Pose a problem with a short description which students must then investigate in order to develop a solution (ex: What can be done to curb or utilize a certain local invasive species?). Another exercise focused on keeping students engaged is to have them create physical prototypes to solve a problem through functional application.
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 a solution. Scholastic helps to get teachers in the mindset of exploring possibilities in search of a 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 your learners’ feelings as they reflect upon a project, or an important topic such as bullying. In addition, be open and available to them if they should seek the advice of an adult on something more personal. Many students have no one to talk to about troubling personal or family problems. When troubled, kids are more prone to misbehave and less able to concentrate, and it can be a struggle keeping learners engaged in such cases. Teachers and counsellors are important individuals in helping children handle such situations.
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. As such, they know what to expect next, which 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 kinaesthetic movement and hands-on learning, and expend a little energy. For optimum health, adults need to change positions and activities frequently within the day. Why wouldn’t children have similar needs?
Teachers can succeed in keeping learners engaged and actively making discoveries in class using the above practices. Ultimately they will help each of you in getting the most from the learning environment. Start with these suggestions, and begin to incorporate your own. Then you can watch your levels of student engagement soar.