How do you keep your students engaged?
It’s not easy keeping students engaged and on task all day, every day. You have a classroom full of students, each with different learning needs and levels of maturity. How do you promote student engagement? How do you empower each student to take an active role in their learning experience? We asked teachers across the country what they do, and this is what they’ve said.
- Establish a Supportive and Collaborative Classroom Environment
- Greet students as they enter the classroom.
- Ask open-ended questions and encourage students to provide examples related to their lives. Here’s an example: How many sides does a triangle have? (closed) What do you notice about this figure? (open)
- Allow time for students to think through the problem.
- Regularly communicate your expectations and assure your students that you want them to succeed and you will help them do so. Ryan Mocarski, Science teacher at Big Walnut Middle School, says, “In my class, we set weekly goals that we have to achieve; we design plans on how to reach those goals throughout the week and what we need to accomplish each day to meet our goals.”
- Give students opportunities to discuss their understanding and areas of confusion and to teach concept to teach their classmates.
- Set High, Achievable Expectations
- Clearly explain what is expected of students and why.
- Create situations that challenge students’ preconceived notions or misconceptions and allow them to discuss their ideas.
- Develop responsible learners who actively monitor their progress and make proactive decisions that support their learning. To prepare students for their future dream jobs, Mocarski runs his classroom like a business. He says, “Each of my students every week gets a set of goals they need to achieve by the end of the week. They need to develop a schedule of how they are going to complete those goals, what they are going to achieve every day, and discuss how long they think each task will take them.”
- Make Learning Applicable to Real Life
- Use hands-on, real-world projects to teach essential principles.
- Provide examples that relate to students’ current interests. In Mocarski’s classroom, his students filmed each other doing tricks on their skateboards to represent energy transfer and how to calculate speed of a moving object. His students also worked together to build a functional pinball machine, to demonstrate how energy transfers as the pinball machine is being used.
- Show how the concept directly relates to a potential career choice.
- Use projects to promote real-life skills like clear communication, time management, collaboration, and building off of other’s strengths. Mocarski shares, “I help students develop real-world skills that would help them function in any line of work when they get older. We work on using collaboration skills, goal-setting, time management and deadlines to try and mimic what the work place actually looks like. The project designs that we do every week come with a list of goals that the students need to accomplish. I do not tell the students how they need to accomplish the goals, I just tell them the deadline. It is their job to figure how they are going to accomplish the goals. They are encouraged to collaborate with others students as well as myself to better accomplish those goals. I have trained my students to embrace their strengths and their weaknesses. If a student has a weakness in an area as they are trying to accomplish a goal, they are encouraged to seek out a person with a strength in that area. They collaborate together to help solve the problem. That is what truthfully happens in the workplace.”