A classroom is a very tricky place. It is a learning hub for some students whereas a boring place for others. Students' diversity in terms of their likeness of the subject, cognitive abilities, and responsiveness makes classroom management a challenging task for students.
Most of the student-teacher interaction takes place inside the classroom. From a pedagogical impact view, teachers must keep the students engaged at all times. The key to maintaining a captivating classroom environment is a teacher's ability to comprehend the factors that impede the students' attention.
A great school year depends upon the fact that the teachers put personalized efforts to make life easier for the students and keep learning fun. According to a new report by the Technical University of Denmark, the total human attention span is shrinking. That is bad news for teachers who must hold their students' focus for up to 120 minutes per class, mainly using the medium of virtual and traditional learning with a plethora of possible multimedia distractions.
For Higher Education institutions, the push for student participation and interaction is not a new problem. However, new technologies and ongoing social and personal challenges have developed a distracting environment that has spilled over into the classroom. The increasing use of social media, smart devices, and other modern gadgets reduces the focus of students on the in-class environment.
The problem seems tremendous, but with the right approach, the use of appropriate methodology, and increased personalization of lecture content. Students can get rid of the problem easily. Follow these steps to engage your students in your classroom.
- Make a personal connection with your students.
- Prepare them for the future.
- Personalize the lectures with real-world examples
- Create excitement by attention-grabbing content
- Understand the learning styles and different bits of intelligence
Make a personal connection with your students.
It is of utmost importance that you know your students, what they are going through, their likes and dislikes, their problems, and their mental capabilities. Most of the teachers that I encountered complaining that their students do not participate in the class are guilty of portraying themselves as worldly beings. That leads to a disconnection between students and teachers.
What I have done in my classroom is to greet every student individually, ask him how their day was and what their plans are after school. That gave me an ample idea of what my students are going through.
In lengthy classes of 120 minutes, use frequent breaks to give students some breathing space and use this window of opportunity for sitting with or talking to the struggling students. This personal attention will give the impression that the teacher cares for the student.
Use the following techniques to makes personal level connections with students.
- Talk to your students: Students are like children for teachers, and like most parents, teachers commit the mistake of talking about students rather than talking to them. Make sure that you sometimes spend to interview each and every student in your class. It is a hectic task, but yes, it pays off really well.
- Offer students assignments that encourage them to express their personal observations and passions. Assessments in language arts can include journaling or ask them to write an essay. Family history surveys or collaboration with local community projects are examples of social studies assignments. Assignments in mathematics or science could involve student-created word problems or community-based inquiry programs. These insights will help you understand what your students are going through and eliminate the pain points.
- Encourage students to discuss issues openly in the classroom. As a teacher, I have found interesting insights into the student’s experiences.
Prepare them for the future.
It is observed that students are really worried about their future and an air of anxiety prevails when they talk about their future. As a teacher, you can offer your advice for the future, which will help them interact with you. You can tell them how to write a resume introduction, how to search for jobs, how to do taxes, and how to tackle real-world problems. Such an engaging class every now and then helps in student retention in a course.
Personalize the lectures with real-world examples
Everyone gets bored with the bookish knowledge and textbook lectures, especially the young minds that are more interested in how things actually work rather than the mathematical equations behind them. For example, in construction class, teaching students how cement strength is measured and chemical reactions involved, the teacher can use a video of a building crashing due to poor cement strength and build upon the fact that if you want your building to stand tall, make sure that you measure the strength.
These kinds of small tricks and tactics can help you a lot to engage students in your class. Another great way is to analyze your students' interests and use examples from the local community about that particular topic.
Create excitement by attention-grabbing content
The best way to add excitement to your class is to begin your lecture with questions and challenge your students to answer. Many teachers deploy a reward system to help children stay motivated or every succeeding lecture. These techniques help them to keep students coming back to the classroom.
Another proven way is to keep a mystery token in your lecture, keep students on their toes by incorporating games to uncover that mystery. The following ways are useful to make an engaging classroom environment by exciting the students.
- Do not repeat textbook material again and again.
- Incorporate technology
- Use multimedia tools, videos, and animations.
- Set up a reward system based on class performance
- Be friendly in the class.
- Crack jokes
- Make personalized efforts to connect students with class.
- Be open to feedback and give real-time feedback to students.
Understand the learning styles and different bits of intelligence
Every child is different and so is every student. Human beings learn things differently. Some students have a great visual memory and learn by observing the things happening around them. Some students learn by hearing. So, teachers must know that they have to understand the different learning styles.
Visual-Spatial learners learn best by taking notes, reading, pictures and videos etc. whereas bodily kinaesthetic learners learn by doing things themselves, taking apart machines and re-joining them etc. To keep class fun and engaging for everyone, teachers should incorporate a bit of everything and cater to every learner's needs.
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