Student engagement is crucial in the classroom. Not only does it help the student come out of his or her shell to set an example for the rest of the class – and possibly help develop some leadership qualities -but good student engagement also facilitates further participation from other members of the class. Furthermore, the more engaged students are in a particular class, the more enjoyable it is to attend and teach, both from the perspective of the teacher and the students.
But how do you go about improving and encouraging student engagement? It’s more difficult than it may sound. Here are five tips and classroom strategies that you can employ in your classroom as a means of improving student engagement and involvement in the classroom:
Sometimes, all students need is a little push. And that little push can be a certain incentive to encourage students to actively participate in the classroom. For instance, you might tell students that participating in class and engaging in class discussions is a part of their grade. Those who actively participate will receive all available points for that particular sector of the curriculum, whereas those who don’t will only receive partial or no credit. If you’re not comfortable making participation a part of a student’s grade, you can offer other incentives such as extra credit or special prizes to the students who participate the most.
A classroom community? Yes, one way to get students to participate more is to create a fun, safe and nurturing learning environment, or a classroom community. Make sure that all students are treated with respect by their peers and that, although some answers might be incorrect, nobody will be made out to be a “bad guy” or a fool by simply participating in class. Make sure you set ground rules for discussions, such as all students must first raise their hand. Also make sure that students don’t interrupt one another or talk over each other. Ensure that students are properly disciplined if they violate any of the rules. Be consistent!
Here’s a novel idea. Each year as you teach new students, make sure you include them by, on the first day, having them help create rules for your classroom. This helps get you off on the right foot with your class and shows them that you value their input on things like rules and regulations. This lets them know that they’re a valued member of your classroom. It’s only natural for students to engage with the class more when they feel more at home in the classroom itself, and this is a great first step.
Make sure that your students’ parents know about your classroom policies and what you’re trying to do. You can share this information with parents at open houses and parent-teacher conferences. And don’t be afraid to express to parents when you think their child needs to be more active and engaging in classroom discussions. Hearing encouragement from parents is sometimes the little push students need to become fully engaged in classroom conversations. Keep in mind that you don’t have to wait until parent-teacher conferences to talk with parents. E-mail has made it much easier to get in touch with parents on a less formal level. It’s a great avenue for informing them when you feel their children need to step up their engagement level in the class by a notch or two.
Take the time to get to know your students. While this may seem like an elementary tip, it can be the difference between engaging your class in great discussion and involvement or no discussion or involvement at all. Knowing the personality traits of your students will help you better know when you can call on them or challenge them, even if they don’t offer it up front. While your job as a teacher is to provide a safe and nurturing educational environment, you can challenge your students occasionally—if you’re confident they can handle it!
Categorized as: Tips for Teachers and Classroom Resources