8 March, 2022
Have you ever been in the middle of teaching your class, took one look at your students, and caught them distracted or blankly staring into space? I hate to be the one to break it to you, but that's when you know your students are bored, disengaged and no longer find your lesson interesting.
It sends you in a spiral, doesn't it? What's making them so bored? Is it you? Is it the confined classroom walls? Is it the subject as a whole or just this specific lesson?
This is why it's essential to find ways to keep your classes interesting so your students can absorb and store all the information you're presenting them with. But how do you create a class environment that keeps students regularly interested in their schoolwork? Here are a few ideas on how to kick things up a notch and keep things interesting for your students:
Let's face it, we've all had that one teacher who speaks in a monotone voice and reads aloud from the textbook until the bell rings. I know I have, and boy was I bored senseless. I didn't retain any of the information during that class and was dreading learning that subject.
Going through the motions of just teaching students the cirriculum doesn't help them understand the material. Teaching in order to just complete the lesson plan in time is one of the most common ways to lose students' interest. Avoid that at all costs.
It's revision time. Students need to be prepared for exams. What do you do? Well, here's what you don't do; repeat the same lesson again. They've already been through the material. Don't confuse repetition with revision. Now that you've taught them the lesson, reviewing it should be a way for them to easily recap what they've learned.
A good strategy is to give them a short summary, and gamify your practice quiz. And it's okay if your students don't have all the answers, because here's a little secret from an old-student: most of us remember the mistakes longer than we remember the answers that we got right!
Students will love you for giving them a break from learning! Or so that's what they think. Creating classroom games based on your lessons will give them a reason to pay attention so they can win the game. Make it more interesting by giving them a reason to be great competitive sports — a prize to the top 3 winners, for instance.
Your students want to feel like they can communicate with you when they need help, when they need advice, or anything else school-related. A great way to make yourself available to your students is to literally keep your doors always open. Let them know that they can reach you - however way you prefer students to reach you. Whether it's through their parents via a communication tool, stopping by your office, or coming up to your desk right after class.
Connecting with students online isn't always easy. Teaching online requires a different set of skills and knowledge than in-person. My number one recommendation to keep students interested and engaged is to make the most out of technology. Use whiteboards, virtual class games, breakout rooms, and the right communication tools to add variety to your lessons.
Make sure to familiarize yourself with these tools, and that your students know how to use them as well. That will encourage students to use them. You can use class communication tools to include parents in the conversation too, and share class updates instantly. Keeping parents engaged and included helps strengthen students' bonds with their parents, and gives parents a chance to actively participate in their learning journeys.
Have you heard of a choice menu board or a choice wheel? A great tip to get students to take initiative in their learning is to let them make their own decisions and choices. They decide what they want to learn today. Create a choice menu board (or wheel) with all your lessons for the semester, and let students decide which one they'd like to learn. Cross out the completed lessons from the board once you're done. Keep going until you've completed the cirriculum, with your students taking the lead in their own learning journey.
Students will understand your lesson easier when they have something that can connect it to their real-world. The answer to "why do we need to learn this?" cannot always be "because you have to". Teachers who default to that response can almost instantly lose all credibility with their students. Give them a real reason to want to learn the class material. Relate a topic to something that has happened or will most likely happen in their lives. This will help them connect to the lesson on a deeper level and be interested to continue learning more throughout the semester.
Giving students a role they need to fill during class is a great way to shake things up. Having a special or important role helps students feel like they are actively participating in class, instead of just listening to what their teacher is saying. Roles like class leader, clean-up crew, and time-keeper are great examples of unique roles that you can assign students. Do you want to keep things more interesting? Rotate these roles on a regular basis to give each student a chance to participate.
Students have a good sense of humor. Well, at least some of them do. And sometimes, teachers think it's innappropriate or unprofessional if they laugh at students' jokes during class. I think it's the opposite. Teachers also have a sense of humor and students need to see that every once in a while. Give your students a chance to relate you and see that you do laugh at funny jokes too! Break that barrier and students will feel more connected to you and your class material.
When I was a high school student, many teachers had a tendency to address us passively. Meaning, teachers would give us one lecture after another. Whether it's turning a lesson into a one-way seminar, or telling us off when students were misbehaving or not paying attention, it made us feel disconnected to the teacher as well as the lesson.
Replacing lectures with more conversations and interactions can go a long way. I still remember my business class because of the many opportunities I had to contribute my own ideas, discuss with other students as well as the teacher. I learned a lot and these lessons did stick with me long after my school years.
Overall, talk less and involve your students more. The more interactive your class is, and the more you utilize the technology you have access to, the more your students will be engaged and interested in learning.
A wise teacher once said "if you're bored, so are they". I think that pretty much sums it up. If you're enjoying your lesson, chances are, your students are more engaged than not. So enjoy teaching, being around young learners and helping them grow. Joy is more infectious than you think.
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Hadeel Al Haddad
The Digital Marketing Owl. The passionate bookworm/book-owl that runs on caffeine and loves soulful music. As a morning Owl, I'm at my creative peak while the sun is still up. I'm a wordsmith who enjoys writing, traveling and making punny dad jokes. Yes, seriously!