Sometimes getting students engaged in your lessons can be a tough job. Even though you might have planned out the most exciting material and activities you can think of, and even though you might think the subject material is genuinely fascinating, not all of your pupils might feel the same way! Students who don't engage will not only do themselves a disservice by not absorbing the required material, but they could also become distracting and disruptive to others at the same time.
Learning how to employ different methods to engage your whole class can help keep them motivated and interested and will ensure they pay attention and that the material sinks in too.
Student engagement techniques for every classroom
Engage with their interests
Often the subject material of a classroom can seem uninteresting to pupils because it is so far removed from what they are interested in, their hobbies and passions, and what they love to do. If you try to relate to your pupils by engaging with their interests and thinking about how your lesson can relate to them, you are far more likely to pique their interest. If lots of pupils in your class love gaming, you could get them to plot a graph of their performance over a week. If they love shopping, get them to project how much they'll spend over the course of a year based on what they are paying out for now.
Connect your teaching to the real world
Another barrier to student engagement is that the lesson's content just doesn't seem applicable in the real world.
So often, the question, 'what's the point when I'm never going to use this in real life?' is asked.
If you can encourage pupils to see how they might apply your teaching in day-to-day life, it suddenly becomes a whole lot more attractive to them. Using real-world examples, case studies and lively anecdotes can also help students to connect more with what you are telling them, so try to incorporate these into your lessons wherever possible.
Keep them busy
Students often disengage when they need more to do. This can easily happen in larger classrooms where some students might finish a task more quickly than others, so make sure you always have a variety of tasks to challenge those who complete the activities faster.
It takes the briefest of moments for a student to get distracted or to zone out, so if there are times when you need a moment to set up a presentation or hand out work, fill this 'dead time' by keeping your students busy with quick and easy tasks that will keep them occupied and on the topic until you are ready to take charge again.
Set group work tasks
Working solo can become a little monotonous for students. They are likely to engage better in tasks if you allow them to bounce ideas off one another and work together. While it's naturally essential for pupils to complete some work individually, group tasks can be a great way to inject some energy and conversation into the lesson.
Encourage questions and discussion
Ask your class thoughtful, open-ended questions and encourage discussion and debate. Asking yes/no questions may lead to a stunted conversation, so plan your questions wisely and encourage honest, open communication where no idea is a bad idea so that students feel comfortable putting forth their opinions and asking questions themselves.
Used mixed media
By utilising a wide variety of media, you'll keep things exciting and varied and make room for different learning styles. Embrace technology, and use physical materials as well as video, presentations, worksheets, and other digital resources. Your students are likely to engage more with tech-rich content as it is familiar and exciting.
Make it fun!
A fun, informal, lively lesson will engage your students far easier than a serious, information-heavy one. Be creative about how you can impart your knowledge. Use gamification, encourage friendly competition between pupils and learn how to have some laughs.
Get them moving
Sometimes students need to be physically energised as well as mentally. Sitting on a chair and being expected to give their full attention for hours at a time can be particularly challenging for young people. Consider creating a learning task that allows students to get up and move around to help them feel more energetic and able to focus again.
Build a rapport
The more comfortable your students feel with you as their teacher, the more they will look forward to your lessons and genuinely want to listen and learn from you. Therefore, it is vital to make an effort to build a rapport with pupils and learn about them. Be supportive, friendly, understanding, and sympathetic, and you'll soon find connections that will help develop a relationship that will naturally have a knock-on effect as to how engaged your students are.
Learn to read the room. If a task isn't going well, or you can feel that the energy is low, it might be time to try a different activity or move on to another topic. Some days are more sluggish than others, and while it is important to get through the material on the curriculum, you can always return to topics or try another angle if it's clear that your students need to be more focused and engaged.
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Keeping your students engaged isn't possible 100% of the time, and every teacher has tough days where it seems almost impossible to get your class engaged and interested in what you have to say. However, by employing the techniques above, hopefully, you'll feel better prepared and have lots of resources and methods to try to ensure that your students pay attention and engage with their learning as much as possible.