8 Ways for Teachers to Increase Student Engagement
Written by Priyanka A.
Teaching is an art that is acquired with experience and inherent wisdom and can be learned through external media only to a certain extent. How to increase student participation in a classroom is unique to each teacher.
Every age group of children comes with its special set of needs, wants, and expectations. The methods used to engage toddlers cannot be used for adolescents, and the same goes for pre-teens, teenagers, and college kids. There are, however, some methods that teachers can use to increase student engagement at all levels of learning because they focus more on the psyche of students as learners than just kids. Here are 8 such ways.
1. Create an emotionally and intellectually safe environment
Fostering a classroom environment where students understand that acceptance of each other is significant and primary. You can have a class motto that says, “We will not put anyone down. We will never make fun of anyone. We will work together and help each other”. More importantly, you as a teacher must also follow this motto and lead by example. The reassurance that they can be themselves without being subjected to negativity encourages students to participate in classroom activities more freely.
“You can have a class motto that says, ‘We will not put anyone down. We will never make fun of anyone. We will work together and help each other’.”
An intellectually safe classroom environment stems from creating activities that everyone in the class can manage to do. If you start off by giving students tough assignments or problems, then most of them will lose interest immediately. On the contrary, beginning with simpler tasks that almost everyone can do easily will be a confidence booster and increase their enthusiasm. Add a challenge like – the tasks will keep getting slightly tougher as we go ahead – as this will get your students expectant and excited about what is to come.
2. Up the pace
‘Slow teaching helps students understand better’ is a common misconception. In fact, A slow pace of teaching deters students from actively participating in the lessons and is one of the reasons for class lethargy and diverted attention. Going too fast doesn’t help either. A teacher must be able to find the middle-ground when it comes to the pace of the class. It should be brisk, filled with examples, maybe some anecdotes or jokes, and include questions. You can also ask simple questions that have short answers which the entire class can answer together. This is useful in waking up any dozers too!
“A slow pace of teaching deters students from actively participating in the lessons and is one of the reasons for class lethargy and diverted attention.”
3. The 10:2 Method
This approach entails giving students 2 minutes of processing time for every 10 minutes of teaching. You can ask them to recap what they have learned by writing it down, asking a few students to stand up and share with the class, asking questions, or having them discuss it with their neighbor. It breaks down the lecture into shorter sessions and helps students integrate and absorb what they have just learned, instead of being overdosed with a load of non-stop information coming their way, helping them engage better in class.
4. Use technology
Student engagement in the classroom can be increased quite effectively using technology. When handing out homework assignments, encourage students to use the internet for research. Or, when you are having a class discussion about the status of everyone’s assignment, you can ask students to share their research and study with the rest of the class.
Another way to make proper use of technology is to refer to interactive websites or funny memes, pictures, infographics, and even videos that are available on the internet as a part of the lesson. It will keep the students attentive and engaged and make the lesson memorable.
5. Lateral thinking over Right answers
If a classroom environment bolsters lateral thinking and explanation over a ‘there’s only one right answer’ approach, student engagement increases. As a teacher, you should encourage more than one way to arrive at a solution. The actual process that a student follows to get the answer is more important than the real answer, which is unfortunately not encouraged in most learning environments. When students are made to think about a problem and find their way around it, the victory is more fulfilling than when one method is enforced on them.
“If a classroom environment bolsters lateral thinking and explanation over a ‘there’s only one right answer’ approach, student engagement increases.”
6. Break down the assignment
It is always easier for students to complete an assignment or project if it is broken down into smaller milestones. Simply handing it out with a specified deadline doesn’t help increase students’ engagement. Instead, discuss their progress each day or alternate day, asking them how they are planning to go about it, assisting them where needed will make the assignment easier for them to understand, and help them complete it more efficiently.
7. Make them aware of what they learned
Self-awareness of what they have learned and how much they have understood goes a long way in ensuring that students remained attentive and engaged in the classroom. Many students are confused and unsure about their knowledge of what is taught in class. To make them aware of how much they do and don’t know, have them make three columns in their book – unsure, maybe, definitely sure. Then ask them to mark an ‘X’ under a column for their assurance about their answers. It encourages students to recheck answers and increases their self-confidence on getting an ‘unsure’ answer right.
8. The 3-2-1 Summary Method
At the end of the class, ask students to summarize the classroom session using the 3-2-1 Method. This should include –
- 3 things that they learned
- 2 things that they found interesting in the lesson
- 1 question/doubt that they have
You can ask them to use a journal or diary to jot these things down or ask a few students to share their thoughts with the rest of the class. Don’t forget to give them some ‘think time’; you can end the class a few minutes before the bell for this activity. Remember that being persuasive about this activity will be a real push for students to do it diligently and hence, pay attention in class.
In conclusion, most children consider school and studying as an unnecessary burden that is forced upon them when they would much rather be enjoying a carefree time. A teacher can drive change and make learning an activity that they look forward to. Engaging children on their current emotional and psychological level is always effective. If they can relate to you and find your subject interesting, then you have successfully managed to make them look forward to studyin
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