With many students preparing to return to classrooms for the first time in more than a year, educators have a big task at hand. Now is the time to think carefully about classroom engagement strategies. By focusing on student engagement, you can make sure that all your students get as much as possible out of the lessons you teach.
What are a few effective student engagement strategies you should consider? Take a look at the list below, so you can keep your students engaged in every lesson you teach this year.
After a year-plus of online learning and virtual classrooms, students across the country are looking forward to heading back to a pre-pandemic-style classroom. While distance learning was crucial in offering those in-class lessons students were missing, it often lacked effective engagement.
Teachers may need to adjust as students return to the classroom this year. Classroom engagement strategies are more critical than ever because studies show that students learn more when they’re invested in the lessons being taught. And after the year they’ve all been through, now is the time to ensure we’re engaging our children. One way you can do this is by using active learning to promote student engagement strategies in your classroom environment.
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Active learning is a strategic approach to education and the learning process. It involves engaging students in lessons. Think group projects, student presentations, problem solving, reflecting, and more. Because it’s the complete opposite of more traditional “lecture-style” teaching, understand that the time to complete lessons with effective classroom management strategies like active learning will often depend on students - keep this in mind when planning.
When standing in front of a classroom teaching, experienced teachers generally know exactly how long it’s going to take to get through a lesson. You won’t necessarily have this luxury with an active learning engagement strategy - but chances are, the unknown will pay off.
Give guidelines for benchmarks and completion dates, but be sure to set aside enough time for the entire lesson. Of course, some students will grasp concepts and move more quickly than others. So you want to be sure to offer enough time for every student to work through the collaborative process at their own pace. Be sure you have supplemental opportunities for those students who finish more quickly.
If you’re curious about the question, “what is social emotional learning in the classroom,” realize that delegating more responsibilities to students can result in increased engagement, confidence, social skills, and learning. Instead of having your students sit there and listen to you all day, assign roles and ask students to learn on their own or in small groups. Then, you can have them come to the front of the room and share what they’ve learned with others. When students know they’re going to be involved, they’re more likely to pay attention to the entire lesson. They also develop a sense of pride when they have an active role in presenting information to their peers.
The past year of virtual and remote learning has highlighted the importance of having modern technology in the virtual classroom setting. Even as we return to a physical classroom culture, we still want to take advantage of the benefits technology can offer in education.
For example, using artificial intelligence (AI) to take students on a virtual field trip can be a great way to break up the mundane of long days. Or, you can use glass boards and smart boards to create new ways to communicate difficult concepts to students.
Using new technology brings innovation into the classroom. It can help you overcome challenges like shorter attention spans, disengaged learning, and teaching difficult concepts - all of which are likely to be on the rise as students get used to being in classrooms again.
Encourage students by letting them take some ownership of lessons. You may want to ask them what they would like to do. Challenge them to come up with what they want to get out of a lesson. Modeling will be key here, as you’ll need to teach the process to ensure they have an attainable (and worthwhile) goal.
Give students a few options when it comes to a lesson or unit. Let them choose from a variety of choices for classwork, assessments, and projects. Students who feel like they have a say in how course material is presented and assessed are more likely to pay attention. Allowing students to have ownership of each learning objective is one of the most important teaching strategies you can use in your classroom. It’s a student engagement strategy that can help create a stronger classroom community and ultimately, ensure that every student gets the most out of his or her education.
Zoned out, distracted, falling asleep. Nothing is more frustrating for teachers than when students are checked out during class. But with more than a year of sitting in front of a computer screen during virtual classes, keeping students engaged may be an even bigger challenge this year. What else can you do?
As a teacher, try getting students moving as often as possible throughout the day. The “brain break” has always been a successful strategy. While students are reacclimating to the rigor of in-class learning, brain breaks are expected to be even more of a welcome (even essential) part of your days. If you hope to get students from 8am to 3pm, mobile activities that get them physically moving around the room are great. Taking that short break lets them (and you) reset. Every learner and educator is more likely to remain engaged in the class session if they can get a quick reprieve throughout the day.
Remember, getting kids moving doesn’t necessarily mean you need to stop what you’re doing, either. Bringing students up to the board, letting them rotate through stations, or splitting them into groups are all ways to introduce a physical component to lessons, without disrupting the actual lesson itself.
Heading back to the classroom is exciting, but it can also be a bit stressful. We’re all going to need to be patient as life (and learning!) get back to normal. Being a little uncertain is understandable. But with a little time and effort, you can ensure you’re implementing classroom engagement strategies aimed at keeping students checked in. This way, you can feel confident your students will have a great year, filled with academic and personal success. Using these ideas and strategies, you should be able to keep your students engaged all year long.