Keeping your students engaged in the classroom can be a difficult task for any teacher. Check out this great list on some ways you can help make this more effective*!
Set the Stage – Atmosphere is critical in helping your students stay engaged. This can range from having colorful bulletin boards and a theme for the year, to having a reading and/or writing corner.
Put on a Performance – Enthusiasm is contagious. Always do your best to put on a smile (even if it’s fake). If you want your students to be interested and engaged in what you have to say, you need to reflect the same mood. You can also use your words and actions to show your excitement by changing the pitch/tone of your voice and standing on the balls of your feet.
Build Relationships – Appropriate, respectful relationships are key. Take the initiative to get to know your students’ names, likes, and dislikes early on. This helps establish mutual trust.
Eat a Frog – Figuratively, of course. A book by Brian Tracy called Eat That Frog! explores the idea that if you had to eat a frog every day, you should eat the frog early in the morning so that it is done and over with. If you’re going to have an unexciting lesson plan or day, still act excited and tell your students they get to eat a frog today.
Trust Marlow – There are a lot of things in your students’ lives that are outside your control. But you can make your classroom a safe and comfortable environment. Consider keeping a few spare sweatshirts for your students if they get cold, and some snacks in case they’re hungry.
Keep Them Guessing – Think about the next topic you must cover, and then think of an unusual or fun way to teach it. Make it memorable. An example is making a fake Facebook (fakebook) page or Instagram page for a historical figure or character from literature. Try practicing division by rolling two 10-sided dice to generate the problems instead of working on a practice page. Make it fun!
Know What You’re Aiming At – Make sure your students know what the Learning Target is when they walk into class. When you’re doing fun or crazy activities, they can keep in mind what the target is and see how things relate. You can post the learning goal on your classroom board, wall, or even the door. This will help keep students focuses and see the big picture.
Tell the Story – Stories make things more interesting. Instead of telling your students about a theory or process, make it more engaging by turning it into a story with characters. The students will care more about what happens, and become more interested.
Spark a Conspiracy Theory – Reach out to other teacher’s and see what they’re covering in their class. Then, mention something in your class that was discussed in another. Use current vocabulary from Language Arts, or refer to a famous scientist or author. Students will pick up on this and get excited. This helps them see how things are interconnected and not just a lesson plan.
Leave Them Hanging – Sometimes, leaving students intellectually frustrated can be a good thing. It makes them leave the classroom pondering the problem, and potentially discuss it with their friends and families. Then they’ll return to class the next day curious, engaged, and energized.
This list is just the tip of the iceberg. Looking for more? Download our FREE whitepaper that delves into specific examples and experiences by Nancy Foote.
*Whitepaper written by Nancy Foote, M.ED.