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Top Tips For Keeping Students Engaged In Class

By Guest Blogger Kena Johnson

Have you ever had trouble keeping your students’ attention? If so, you’re not alone. A report published by EdWeek found that student engagement decreases as children get older, bottoming out at 32% engagement by the 11th grade — one of the most crucial times for students.

The thing is, students want to excel, but some have difficulty doing so. This can be a result of plenty of factors, such as home problems, issues with teachers or subjects, lack of genuine interest, and various other personal circumstances. Sometimes, it’s as simple as not having the energy to engage in class. The report states that students felt this way because as they grew older, they felt as if the adults in their life cared less. And in turn, they saw less value in their work. Fortunately, there are plenty of strategies
educators can implement in order to tackle this problem and develop excitement and engagement oncemore in the classroom. Here, we’ve outlined a few key ways you can start:

Have a positive demeanor

High levels of engagement can be brought on simply by having a positive, enthusiastic demeanor. The most basic influence on a student’s level of engagement is a teacher’s conduct, as this helps establish a tone that encourages student interest.

Teachers who are mindful about their physical presence often have more success with students. This doesn’t mean changing your physical traits, but rather, the physical presence teachers impose upon the class through posture, attitude, and behavior. Communicate things verbally in a positive way, and make sure your body language says the same as well. This can be done by celebrating their success, and showing that you value their work. On the other hand, try to avoid slouching, or having a monotone voice
when teaching. Try to pair constructive criticism with praise, so that they know their effort is appreciated and great nevertheless.

Encourage critical thinking

Critical thinking is a skill that educators can not overemphasize. After all, researchers at the University of Houston have linked it to the highest levels of learning. Thankfully, critical thinking can be developed through various activities, like asking them deep, thought-provoking questions in pairs or in groups, or by proposing relevant, real-world problems for which they have to discuss potential solutions.
Students who engage in critical thinking are more confident to join in-depth discussions with their peers, fostering not only critical analysis, but social skills as well. Try asking them relevant questions about current events they care about, such as how they would address certain environmental issues, or how they think relevant theories work in real life.
Get them out of their chairs

Activities with game-like characteristics are likely to keep students engaged — whether it’s through their competitive streak coming out or simply the desire to have fun. LearningPlunge’s Director of Learning Barb Bailey touches on this in her article on the ‘4 Benefits of Game-Based Learning’, citing social-emotional growth and the potential for gaining feedback.

Try creating a points-based reward system for your students, with extra points for an upcoming test or a chance to choose a topic for their project as a reward. Games like GeoPlunge and HistoryPlunge both encourage active learning within the classroom, helping students define and analyze things on their own.

Create a safe environment for learning

While it’s true that not all students learn the same way, their environment plays a huge role in their development. Creating an environment where students feel safe to learn is vital.

Sometimes, the best way to motivate your students is to show them you care about them. In fact, educators at Maryville University stress the importance of being compassionate, which entails truly caring about your students’ needs and abilities by finding ways to address the former and bring out the best in the latter. Create a judgment-free zone for students to work in by encouraging any and all questions, and do not hesitate to foster connections with students so that they feel safe to approach you for any situation.
The key is to make them feel their presence and work are both valued.
Keep them engaged!

There are plenty of strategies to keep your students engaged — and finding out what works best for your class will help keep things interesting. The more interactive and engaging a class is, the more students will enjoy what they’re learning.

Kena Johnson is a mother, tutor, and aspiring writer all-in-one. She has a passion for teaching kids — one that she actively shares to the world. When she isn’t teaching, writing, or being a mother to a pair of amazing twins,
she’s sticking her nose into a book or going to the gym near her house in Boston, Massachusetts

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