How to naturally increase engagement in the classroom

How to naturally increase engagement in the classroom

Providing an engaging environment in the classroom is like putting fertiliser in the soil. You still plant the same seeds and do the same nurturing of the plants, but the results end up stronger, and the fruits are sweeter. An engaged classroom lets you swim with the flow rather than against it, and everyone benefits.

Of course, there’s no such thing as smooth flow in a classroom. It can be turbulent, with some pupils heading effortlessly towards their goals, and others getting stuck in currents of resistance, distraction and confidence crises. But teachers know some pretty useful tips for creating engagement in the class. The net result is more attentive students, and that makes everything easier to do. Here are our tips.

Assess engagement

First up, you need to know what you’re dealing with. Which pupils seem genuinely open to learning, and which ones are actively resistant to it? The active learners obviously need to be given attention, but teachers generally find they’ll get on with anything you put in front of them, knowing you’re always there if they encounter problems.

The resistant ones are where the issues lie. The techniques below can help, and don’t forget that turning one resistant learner into an actively engaged one is like getting two extra eager pupils for the price of one, in terms of effort and stress.

Find what interests them

Children often don’t see the point of what they’re learning. Basic mathematics and English tend to be quite self-explanatory and easy to see the reason behind, but once maths get more abstract, and more humanities subjects enter the equation, they can switch off.

The simplest way to tackle this issue is to find out what they are interested in, and create examples of how these abstract concepts would have “real-word” benefits to their hobbies. Asking how their favourite super hero would have dealt with a historical quandary can produce some fascinating results, and brings the subject to life.

Listen to their opinions

Don’t just teach, listen. Pupils who feel engaged are more likely to be engaged. We’ve all been stuck in social events where one person dominates proceedings. It’s demoralising and often pretty boring. Don’t be that person, even though you’re the teacher. Make sure you ask them to raise their hands often, and when you’re one-on-one, let them know their opinions are valid.

Give feedback

That little B+ at the bottom of the page is important, but not as important as the comments that accompany it. Make sure they know you’ve read, digested and understood what they were trying do. Constructive criticism will become that fertiliser.

Reward pupils

Setting up a system of rewards is always a great motivator, as long as everyone is benefiting from it. Whether you choose individual rewards or house points, a bright, colourful token system is a fantastic visual way to make kids more engaged with their work. Suddenly, they’ll see the point of learning Henry VIII’s wives’ names!

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