By Teachers, For Teachers
Of course, you want to impress your students. For if you don’t, there’s a good chance that you’ll lose the majority. And once the troublemakers start paying more attention to each other than to your teaching strategies, it’s very hard indeed to keep the rest of your students intrigued. So what are some of the best teaching strategies to use to keep them engaged?
The first strategy has been proven time and again by psychology. We are very strongly loss averse. So, by framing a lesson that they don’t learn as them losing out, they’ll be far more likely to pay attention.
So how do you do that? Well, the best way is to tell them a story of somebody that didn’t learn the lesson that you’re teaching, and as a result didn’t get what they wanted. Note that you might want to phrase it differently. You might want to say that they gained something as a result of choosing the option available.
The thing is, then you’re no longer engaging their sense of loss and it will therefore not be quite as effective.
A similar strategy is to tell them what they most likely will not be able to have. For example, “Although you’d probably really enjoy our discussion of XYZ, we probably won’t get that far because of our restricted time.”
People hate it when they are told they can’t have something. And so you can use that to keep them engaged with something that they’re not all that interested in so that they can get to whatever they might otherwise miss out on.
A lot of teachers make the mistake of focusing on the material rather than the students. They believe that the most important thing that has to be done is that the students have to be exposed to a lot of information and the result - through some sort of osmosis - will be that they’ll learn. It very rarely works. Instead, it’s vital that the information becomes relevant to them. This can be done by making characters likable, creating a connection between them and the students, or demonstrating that they’re somebody that the students can look up to.
Do you know why many games are so addictive for students, even if they seem boring? It’s because they consistently and constantly get little rewards for what they’ve achieved. These rewards can be tiny. They can be a bar filling up, a flower saying “Good job,” or similar strategies.
If you can find some way to introduce this into the curriculum, by showing them during and after each class that they’ve learned something and can do something that they couldn’t do before, they are going to feel far more engaged than they otherwise might have.
Another strategy that games use is to engage more than one sense. That’s hard to do in the classroom. Most often, it’s just you talking with the occasional word on the whiteboard.
If you can move beyond that, however, if you can somehow include visuals and engage the senses, then it’s going to be far easier for your students to stay engaged.
You can take that strategy further by giving the students in your class a more direct role in planning what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it. An effective strategy for this is group work, where students work together to complete a project.
To make sure that this really works well, force the students to take on different responsibilities and work on those solo. The great thing about this is that they are then forced to plan and strategize amongst themselves to effectively bring about the completion of the project.
In the traditional classroom, students didn’t get a lot of time off. It turns out that’s not actually that good for students. They need breaks every so often to give them time to digest and recuperate.
Note that these breaks don’t need to be them sitting still and not doing anything. Simply changing from one thing to another can quite often be effective, as long as they’re quite different (from reading to the discussion, from writing to planning and so forth).
Teaching isn’t what it used to be. The buzzword of today isn’t punishment, but engagement. If your students love what you’re saying, then they’ll pay attention to you as your saying it. That seems rather obvious if you say it.
Yet it is something that we’ve known for decades and for most of that time teachers have paid it lip service only. It’s time that we move on to the next page. It is the time that we actually start incorporating some of these strategies into our classrooms and engaging the students to the best of our ability. It will make the time pass that much faster and will serve to make your students grateful to you for the rest of their lives.
Author: Pat Fredshaw is a blogger and content editor at Essaysupply.com. She writes about educational process, students` lives, parenting (especially with teens), etc.