Student engagement has been a hot-button topic in the world of education for some time. The concept has become even more important as we navigate all of the change happening in education. However, the statistics around engagement are startling, despite educators’ best efforts. In 2018, a Gallup poll found that about half of students are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” with school. As the education landscape changes, many teachers are asking the same question: what are some research-based strategies to increase student engagement?
While the answers to this question are as many as there are students in your classroom, Keep Indiana Learning is here to share a few engagement strategies for teachers. Here are our six tips:
1. Rethink How You Give Instructions
Let’s be honest–giving instructions isn’t the most exciting part of your day. And while instructions don’t necessarily have to be fun for your students, the way you deliver them should be engaging. After all, if students don’t pay attention to instructions, they probably won’t succeed on the assignment or activity.
Rethink the way you give instruction to make it more engaging. Try:
- Having a routine that students come to expect
- Breaking the ice with a fun activity
- Giving opportunities for students to engage or answer questions
- Maybe asking a student each day to help recite the instruction back
Don’t be afraid to try new things. Leverage your own style and have fun with it!
2. Make Distance Learning Count
If there’s one goal we’ve all been working toward the last few years, it’s making distance learning count just as much as in-person instruction. While getting creative can be difficult, it can go a long way to keeping students interested.
Consider adding music to your lesson or directing them to some online educational games. Break up the day with fun, short, and educational activities. Maybe add in ways to engage with snaps or claps by recognizing a fellow student or celebrating a completed lesson.
Make sure you know all the ins, outs, and common troubleshooting for the online platforms you use. Nothing diverts kids’ attention like technical difficulties!
3. Cut Out the Busy Work, Bring in Some Challenges
We’ve all taken courses at some point during our education where everything just felt like “busy” work with no real purpose. While small assignments can be a great way to teach easy concepts, it’s the challenging projects that will really keep students engaged. Besides learning harder material, students also learn to problem-solve and develop perseverance.
Think about real-world applications. Provide opportunities for extra credit if students go above and beyond. Provide challenges that allow students to think out of the box, provide new perspectives, or think critically.
4. Add Some Variety to Your Reading List
What are the perennial staples of your language arts syllabus? Maybe To Kill a Mockingbird makes an appearance, or perhaps this year your class is reading a Shakespearean play.
While tried-and-true classics are always a great addition, it might be time to reconsider your reading list. Think about what kinds of books your students will engage with. Maybe between classics, you could fit a science fiction novel that showcases important themes. Try to throw in literature from all genres, including non-fiction. Different students are interested in different things, and by creating a broad reading list, you ensure that everyone finds something that speaks to them.
Bonus: While young adult books are mostly used for entertainment, there are themes and lessons to be learned in these stories. Maybe consider adding a popular young adult books into your curriculum that will really get students engaged and also help them look at these books in a different way.
5. Incorporate Group Activities
One of the most common strategies teachers use to engage students is group activities. Some students might dread working with their peers, but the benefits outweigh any momentary nerves.
One way to avoid problems is to give each student specific responsibilities to their group—this teaches good collaboration strategies while ensuring that no one student is doing all of the work. Studies have shown time and time again that students who work effectively with others tend to be more engaged overall.
6. Use Relational Teaching Methods
Relational teaching strategies are yet another excellent way to keep your students more engaged. This technique emphasizes connection and student/teacher relationship. At its core, this method aims to make children feel emotionally safe. When students feel safe in their learning environment, they’re much more likely to be engaged with the material and less likely to have behavioral incidents in the classroom.
It’s also beneficial to reinforce making students feel comfortable with each other. Think about ways to diffuse conflict, embrace collaboration, and promote acceptance.
Keeping Indiana Learning–One Student at a Time
No matter what grade you teach, Keep Indiana Learning is in your corner. We strive to invest in educators and transform student learning with free events, paid workshops, and informative podcasts. With these resources and our engagement strategies, our team hopes to positively impact Indiana schools, one student at a time.
Browse our Engagement Center for free events and our OnDemand library to find more educational resources to help you engage students.