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Top 8 Ways to Engage Students in the Classroom

Students tend to be most engaged when they feel in control of their learning. Research has demonstrated that autonomy support increases student engagement while increasing concentration levels.

Try engaging your students both socially and individually through activities like think-pair-share or group discussions; these activities can even take place online to build community in your class.

1. Make Learning Fun

Engagement increases student retention of lessons by making the experience of learning exciting and enjoyable. Engaged students tend to follow along better in classes and recall lessons more readily.

One way to make learning fun is to introduce some mystery into your lessons. Give students clues as to what they might learn next, then encourage them to uncover it all on their own.

Integrate teamwork into your classroom for added fun learning experiences. Think-pair-share activities may help initiate discussion amongst students about something they care about.

2. Create a Positive Environment

Students who feel welcome and secure in their classrooms tend to be engaged learners, greeting teachers with smiles and working carefully while participating actively in class discussions.

Provide structure and routines in your classroom, setting high but realistic academic expectations.

Introduce student-driven projects, such as creating a class newsletter or an interactive smart panel class project. Giving students more choices within the classroom is one way to boost student engagement.

3. Ask Questions

Engaging students by inviting them to voice their questions while learning keeps them actively involved, allows teachers to address areas where some may lack comprehension, and leads to enriching classroom discussions.

Use open-ended questions that focus on exploring processes (i.e. “how” and “why”) rather than providing straightforward solutions.

Encourage students to seek clarification during and after class. Acknowledging when they pose thoughtful inquiries demonstrates their efforts are valued.

4. Give Students Choice

Choice can be one of the best ways to boost engagement among students, providing them with a sense of autonomy, competence and relatedness.

Students need the freedom to decide how they approach an assignment or what to do when they complete early. Make sure you set clear guidelines, explaining WHY these decisions have been given them.

Student choice may become more intricate when combined with units that focus on larger topics.

5. Make Learning Relevant

Students are more likely to engage with any topic they find relatable through hands-on learning, stimulating discussions or even debates.

Asking students questions that are truly interesting helps too, such as using the classic think-pair-share technique whereby students write their name on a popsicle stick and share with a partner their ideas on a question posed to them is an excellent way to keep students engaged.

Teachers should incorporate lessons with relevant, unifying themes that relate to real-life topics into their lessons, such as having students work on projects spanning disciplines like biology, geography, politics and economics.

6. Give Students Brain Breaks

Exercise is an effective way to activate both sides of the brain and energise students. Have them run in place as though being chased by a bear or do jumping jacks as an effective exercise routine.

An enjoyable activity to consider is playing a high energy playlist and inviting students to dance during one song, providing a way for them to release some energy while making them laugh. Short breaks like these also serve to refocus and regulate hippocampus function – an especially helpful practice before periods with difficult content.

7. Give Students Feedback

Feedback can be an effective way of engaging students in your classroom, but make sure it is meaningful and constructive.

Launch your feedback with an encouraging comment to make the student feel valued, followed by specific advice about areas for improvement.

Remind students to revise their work based on your feedback; this will enable them to develop and practice skills as well as foster a growth mindset – in turn helping them take responsibility for their own learning experience.

8. Create a Positive Student/Teacher Relationship

Teachers need a selection of strategies in their toolbox that they can employ when students’ engagement starts to decline, in order to keep students’ interest up and ensure better academic and extra-curricular performance.

Formative assessments provide you with a way to effectively interact with students by helping you to identify areas in which they may be struggling as well as highlight their strengths.

Make sure that students feel like they can come to you with any issues; this will foster meaningful relationships and increase engagement levels.

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