In terms of creating a solid system for engagement in classroom situations, it is important to have a plan in place. Though this plan may need to be tweaked in accordance with the students in the classroom at any given time (class, school year, etc.), a solid strategy will make this not only easier but also more effective.
Planning engagement in classroom interaction is crucial to increasing engagement. Planning helps teachers mitigate the risks in terms of students, activities, etc., and increase their likelihood of success. Engagement in classroom activities can be done by having a well-planned lesson, which leads to class activities where engagement can occur as students work together and share ideas and opinions with one another.
Planning can also be done from a more personal viewpoint. For example, if a teacher has established that they want their classroom environment to be one where risk-taking is encouraged and classes are interactive, then every activity, lesson, and interaction with students should reflect this belief. This involves planning ahead for different scenarios (e.g. an overly talkative student) and being able to adapt when unanticipated situations arise (e.g., an argument breaks out in class).
In a similar way, teachers can also plan more personally for each individual student and how they might engage that child the most effectively in their learning process. This means teachers should not only be familiar with the student’s interests, but also those things that make them frustrated or bored.
When engaging students in classroom activities, it is important to keep an eye out for whether or not students seem to be enjoying the class. For example, if a student seems off task and is consistently fidgeting, then the teacher might need to address this issue and find a way to fix it. This can then be reflected upon in the planning stages on how to change the class so that this is not an issue again. If engagement is occurring, there should also be ways that the teacher can increase and improve this type of learning environment.
In terms of engaging students in the classroom, it is important to allow time for students to get to know each other and also plan activities that will be fun and create interactions between all of the different types of learners. Activities such as having a classwide party or outing (after meeting certain academic criteria), inviting special guests who might bring something new to the table, or even having a classwide board that allows for students to comment on something they did, saw, or heard can help the teacher get to know their students more in a more personal and interactive way.
In addition, creating an atmosphere where there are no wrong answers and everyone is encouraged to share ideas helps create this sense of learning community that makes classroom interactions more effective and engaging.
In terms of classroom management, it is important for teachers to set firm boundaries but also allow students the flexibility to make mistakes or learn from these mistakes as they go along. Managing outbursts in class can be a difficult task that is made easier by planning and establishing rules beforehand. For example, if there are going to be repercussions for a student who speaks out of turn in class, then this should be discussed beforehand and the reasoning for it shared. This might take place during the first few days of school or even at the start of each subject.
If teachers are not establishing these expectations early on and letting students know that they will have to abide by them in order to take part in the class activities, then students will not only be confused as to what is expected of them (and perhaps become less engaged), but they also won’t know how to get help or assistance if something goes wrong.
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How to Plan for Engagement
Planning engagement in classroom activities can be done by starting off with an engagement-provoking question. Questions are a good way to get students talking and learning from one another as they come up with their own answers. They lead to engaging discussions, which help reduce boredom and enhance intrigue. This can be incorporated into lesson plans, or it can simply be an activity to kick off the engagement process.
Planning engagement in classroom activities can also be done using various teaching techniques. These help students interact with one another, and they work well for more large-scale engagement exercises. Techniques include but are not limited to:
- Group collaboration to reach a common goal.
- Peer learning, in which students work with each other rather than the teacher for the learning process.
- Pairing off or rotating groups of students for activities so that they can include various people at different times throughout the process.
- Trivial or discussion topics incorporated into question formats (such as trivia night).
These engagement in classroom techniques serve as tools that can be utilized in classroom situations.
This helps engage students during a lesson but can be encouraged outside of the classroom setting as well. Engagement is an important part of building any type of relationship, and so it should not only take place in the class. In order to truly make a difference in engagement levels, engagement must also be encouraged outside of classroom activities. This can be done through discussion or homework questions that require engagement both in and out of the classroom.
What about disengagement?
As interaction is an important part of a class, it’s equally necessary to discuss the converse: disengagement. Fortunately, this is just as easy to recognize and remedy if you follow a similar process.
In terms of recognizing disengagement, it is important to note that student interaction is not the only factor that changes, but also engagement levels. The engagement level of an entire group or class can change depending on certain factors:
- Exams and tests
- Homework assignments
- Field trips and other similar excursions
- Class activities or assignments
The engagement level can be decreased for any of these types of activities or assignments. A change in engagement level can be recognized by looking at the amount of interaction occurring during a given class versus how much there was before the level changed. Sometimes, you can just feel the energy shift and that is a good time to reassess the situation.
You can also look at this on an individual level to lead to greater success in pinpointing what exactly is changing with a student’s engagement level. For example, a student may start to fall asleep in class because of not getting enough sleep the night before. A decrease in productivity could be detected by looking at how much a student talks or interacts with others for that particular session as compared to his or her interactions to date.
Teacher engagement in classroom activities
Engagement in classroom should be looked at as a two-way street. If students are engaged, the teacher should also be engaged with them in order to provide that positive interaction. It is important that engagement levels stay above a certain level of engagement for classroom activities to be effective.
There are several ways teachers can get involved with engagement in classroom situations.
One way to get engagement is to employ the buddy system. This can be used in a variety of ways:
- The buddy system uses engagement in a classroom setting by pairing up students with each other to work together. The purpose of this technique is to create engagement between two people. The buddy system works well for engagement in classroom situations because it encourages engagement outside of classwork, which is equally important as engagement during classwork.
- Fun and games are great ways to engage students. This can be done by bringing up engagement in classroom situations with students to encourage engagement outside of the classroom setting as well.
- Tagging along– this is similar to the traditional buddy system, but instead of just one-on-one engagement, it involves an entire group doing so.
- Dice or other such games that require engagement can be used to encourage engagement in classroom situations during an entire class. This means the interaction is not just between two students, but also within the larger group.
- Work together after hours– this requires engagement outside of the classroom setting during off times such as lunchtimes or after school.
Engagement in classroom activities should be encouraged for many reasons, but engagement outside of the classroom should be encouraged because it helps teachers pinpoint why exactly the engagement level is decreasing.
During engagement outside of the classroom, positive interaction should be encouraged even when it’s not explicitly called for. This will encourage engagement before an activity or assignment actually begins. It also encourages student engagement through the use of fun and engagement activities.
Increasing levels of engagement in classroom environments
Engagement in classroom levels can be increased by pointing out what engagement looks like and how it affects engagement outside of the classroom as well. Engagement is an important factor that should be looked at in order to encourage greater achievement for students.
Individuals have different engagement levels, so engagement levels should not necessarily be compared for engagement in classroom situations. The engagement levels of students should be reassessed periodically to make sure engagement levels are increasing and staying at a “healthy” engagement level.
In closing, engagement is one of the most important aspects of the classroom environment. Without engagement from students, classroom activities cannot be effective to help students achieve their greatest potential.
Engagement should not and cannot be forced on a student. For this to work effectively, it must be given freely by both parties in an interaction. Engagement however does not only apply to engagement in classroom situations. There are engagement techniques that can be used outside of class activities such as engagement games, engagement activities, and engagement levels.
Overall engagement in classroom is important for the success of any student or group of students involved with engagement in classroom situations. Teachers should do their best to encourage engagement from both parties in order to have greater success in the classroom.
Using the 4 keys for engagement in classroom scenarios
There are four keys to student engagement that I discuss in my video training challenge that releases twice per year. It is called “Finding Your Student Engagement Formula” and it walks you through those four keys and how to implement them in the classroom. If you are interested in registering (it’s totally free), visit the Finding Your Student Engagement Formula Challenge registration page and you will be notified the next time the series is available.