So, you’ve finally landed that first teaching job after 4 long years of studying and preparing. You walk in ready to shape young minds but end up struggling to get your students to pay attention.
And you’re not alone. Many teachers, both new and experienced, struggle with class participation and engagement.
However, it’s important for your students to stay focused in order to learn and succeed. So what can you do to improve class participation and engagement?
We have the answers you’re looking for! Keep reading to learn how you can engage your students and get those little hands raised in the air.
Survey Your Students
Think about what got you to participate in school. You likely were more focused when learning about your favorite subjects or when you enjoyed the class.
While the subject you teach won’t be every student’s favorite, you can cater your lesson plans to make them more enjoyable. In the beginning of the year, pass out surveys asking your class what they’re interested in.
This could include things like hobbies and favorite TV shows. For example, if you find most of the class likes going to the movies, you can incorporate new movies in your activities.
You could also make the survey center around learning techniques. Ask the class if they’re interested in using smart boards, iPads, or if they prefer creative projects.
If your students have different needs, this website can help you offer personalized learning to your class.
Plan More Group Activities
What better way to get your students to participate than to give them a group activity? There are so many possibilities, and they’re a great way to keep your lessons fresh and interesting.
However, every class seems to have at least one student who wants to shirk their responsibilities in group projects. To ensure everyone is participating, organize the activity so there is one task for each student.
Don’t Lecture All Class
Do you tend to lecture for the majority of your class? When you have so much information to get through, it may seem like there’s no other way.
However, even university students only have an attention span of 10 minutes! This means that everything you say past the 10-minute mark will be far less likely to sink in.
Of course, if your students’ attentions are dwindling, so is their participation. The best way to combat this is to break up your lecture into more manageable chunks.
Talk for 10 minutes, then switch things up with an activity or video. Your students will still be learning and getting through the required material, but they’ll be much more present for the entirety of the class.
Give Lecture Activities
We’ve all had teachers who gave out worksheets to complete during a video. It’s a great way to keep classes unique while still ensuring they’re paying attention to the video.
So, why not employ this tactic to your lecture?
Create worksheets for your students to fill out during your lecture. Consider using open-ended questions for older students and fill in the black or multiple choice questions for younger students.
At the end, consider adding a few questions that urge students to express their thoughts and opinions on the topic discussed, such as: “How could the main character avoided conflict in this chapter?” or “Do you think a two-party system works well in America?”
This will give students a chance to reflect on what was discussed during class and practice their critical thinking skills. Plus, having students share their answers is a great way to start a class discussion.
Break from Traditional Desk Arrangements
When setting up your classroom, you probably didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about desk formation. But you don’t have to keep that traditional class set-up with all desks facing the front.
Arrange desks in a U shape or form a few rows on either side of the classroom facing the middle. This will allow students to see each other and can encourage open discussions.
If you tend to move towards group activities, then consider arranging desks in clusters. This may be easier in private schools with smaller class sizes, but teachers with large classes and usually rearrange too.
Use Interactive Visual Aids
Lectures may work great for auditory learners, but most students will need some kind of visual aid to help them focus. While slideshows outlining the main points are okay, there are other options.
To really get your students engaged and active, use interactive visual aids, like projectors or smart boards. You may call on students to come up and label parts of a diagram or complete the math problem.
For younger students, you could display a picture, ask a question, and have a student come up to circle the answer. For example, you may ask “which animals are carnivores?” A volunteer would then come up and circle every carnivore in the picture.
Have you ever shopped at a store because you got a coupon in the mail or your rewards card was one punch away from a free product? Let’s face it–everyone loves free stuff.
These incentive programs work in the classroom too. Offer points or stars to students for participating in class. After they’ve accumulated so many points, they can then redeem them for a prize.
You don’t have to give out points for every question answered. You may prefer to give points to students with great answers or to those who participate a lot in one day.
You’ll notice students will be more inclined to participate when they’re trying to win that coveted prize. So, make sure you choose prizes students are interested in, such as an excuse to skip one homework assignment.
Improve Class Participation Today
If your students are always looking at you with glazed-eyes, you’re probably struggling to get them to raise their hands and participate in class. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Just follow our tips to improve class participation and engagement starting with your next class.
Are you a Spanish teacher? Check out these tips for learning Spanish to give yourself a new perspective. You may even be inspired to change up your lesson plan.