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5 Tips for Improving Student Engagement in the Classroom

Jul 10, 2018 by

It’s no secret that being a teacher is hard work. You’re responsible for shaping the minds and futures of young adults. This is no easy task. And this is especially true as students get further into their educational journey. Young learners are eager by nature. They’re excited to learn, discover, and grow. They also hit countless milestones and retain information through play. There’s more responsibility placed on older students. The workload increases, some of the material may be less interesting, and the pressure to succeed can be quite intense. So how do you keep students engaged in the classroom despite social and mental distractions?

  1. Take Brain Breaks

We all need a mental break at one point or another. Sometimes, your brain just loses focus and can’t absorb any more information. Not to mention, sitting in a desk chair for hours on end isn’t healthy for students. It can cause back posture issues and weight gain if students are not active outside the classroom. When your class is looking unfocused or exhausted, it’s likely time for a brain break. This can come in a variety of forms and really constitutes anything that gets students up and moving. Try taking a walk around the building or performing some standing stretches. If students are open to it, try a simple yoga routine or even a dance break. Play a quick game to take the focus off of the subject at hand. These short brain breaks can lead to increased productivity.

  1. Pick-Up On Subtle Cues

The only way that brain breaks will work in the classroom is if you’re in tune with your students needs. This means picking up on cues that they’re losing interest. Of course, you can’t make every single lesson or subject exciting or fascinating. Some students will find certain things more interesting than others. But if it appears that you’re losing the entire class, you need to make a change. And quick. Are students staring out the window, playing on their cell phones or whispering to each other? If so, it likely means you’ve completely lost their interest. This can lead to behavioral issues, which will impede the learning process even more. If you can pick-up on these cues, you can make a switch in your teaching approach before things go too far. And understanding these cues will help you in the future as well. What worked and what didn’t? Think of yourself as a business owner trying to understand customer retention rates. You need to step back, examine your approach, and figure out what’s working and what needs improvement. You may never please the entire class at the same time and what works for one group of students might not for another. It’s all about trial and error and getting to know your students.

  1. Think Outside the Box

When students are faced with the same old teaching methods, projects, and lectures day in and day out, they’re inevitably going to get bored. One way to keep students engaged is to switch things up. Think outside the box in terms of your approach. If there’s a new, innovative, or interactive way to teach the same subject, give it a shot. Of course, some information doesn’t quite lend itself to overly exciting or engaging lessons. But this is where your creativity comes into play. Check out the next section for more tips on interactive lessons.

  1. Plan Interactive Activities

Students are more likely to remember and retain information by doing something rather than simply hearing or reading about it. Which is all the more reason to incorporate interactive activities and lessons into your curriculum. This is fairly easy when it comes to subjects like science. Math can get a little tricky, but it can be done. History offers a great opportunity for performing reenactments or even hosting a mock trial based on a famous historical court case. Students will benefit greatly from developing an argument, researching the case, and defending their position. They’ll be learning and retaining the facts without even realizing it. Try hosting writing workshops for your English or literature lessons where students can give and receive constructive feedback on their work. Whenever there’s an option to “do” something rather than lecture about it, take advantage.

  1. Don’t Be Afraid to Break with Tradition

They say that the past is doomed to repeat itself. But we also learn from the past. The same holds true for keeping students engaged. If a certain lesson has fallen flat each and every year, it’s likely time for a change. And once you make that change, you can determine if it was the right choice. Breaking from tradition can sometimes be difficult in a school setting. This is either because you are somewhat set in your ways as a teacher, holding the belief that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. Or you may be restricted as to what you can and cannot do based on your school’s curriculum. If you’re looking to broaden your horizons in terms of your approach to teaching, it’s best to confer with your supervisors to ensure that you’re still meeting the curriculum requirements. But don’t be afraid to make a change. Sometimes, it’s exactly what you and the students need. So, don’t be afraid to ask about taking a different approach to a classic lesson.

Without student engagement, your lessons will fall flat and your class won’t be getting the education they need or deserve. Try putting yourself in the shoes of your students. Would you find the lesson you’re teaching interesting and exciting? If the answer is no, they likely won’t either and it might be time for a change.

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1 Comment

  1. Jonathan Sheinkop

    Well written article. I totally agree that kids need to stand more in the classroom. Promoting good posture from an early age while in school or at home when studying and using the computer are keys to stronger children and less back pain as adults.

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