I recently read through a blog post written by Stacey Lloyd on engaging students in the first few minutes of your lessons. As a teacher, especially being new, I have been taking in any and all advice that will help me improve in my own classroom. Student engagement is crucial in your lessons. If students are snoozing, they definitely aren’t learning! I hope to create a learning environment that is (almost) always engaging, and that my students will enjoy and grow from. Being an educator, you can tell when your class is engaged, and when they’d rather do anything other than be at school. It’s tough to balance that engagement and still have time to cover the material. After reading this article, I gained some really great ideas to help get my students interested in the lesson.
The first tip from Stacey Lloyd was to rearrange the desks. Students get into a monotonous routine, and sometimes switching things up a little bit is all that you need. Having students work in groups, pairs, or even having the whole class in a circle gets students ready to learn.
Don’t have students take out their books. Your class expects to pull out their textbooks and go over the required material. Instead, have them leave everything in their desks and just listen for a moment.
Asking a question that gets them thinking is a great way to get students engaged, or reading a quote that relates to your lesson. After thinking about it and having a thoughtful discussion, students will feel more invested in the topic and more likely to be interested in what comes next.
These days, everything revolves around technology. Playing a video clip that pertains to the topic will help students get engaged. Your class will be more likely to pay attention.
The last tip was to play a game. Not a game that takes the full time out of social studies, but a game that takes five minutes or less. This isn’t all the time, but every once in a while. Lloyd suggested Hangman with the topic being the word, Word Tennis, or Two Truths and a Lie about the author whose work you will be studying. This aids in the class being in a good mood, and builds a community as well!
I, myself, have found that the students love when they get to be the “teacher.” I usually use this method during math. After my lesson, I have the students work independently or in pairs to solve a few problems. After a few minutes of doing this, I pull sticks with the students’ names on them and have them come up to the whiteboard and solve the problem in front of the class. The students know to give step-by-step directions to the class, as we are now the learners. I have seen great growth using this method with students who have behavior issues in the classroom as well. My class is always eager to be the teacher, and it serves as a reward for them.
I hope some of these strategies help in getting students engaged in your lessons, and I will continue to find more ways to keep my students actively participating in my lessons.