Successful learning outcomes depend on a certain level of classroom engagement from both students and teachers. With a positive educational environment, students are both better supported and more likely to become and remain proactive with their personal study journey. Yet, with the rise of social media and multi-media outlets like gaming dominating children’s lives, how do teachers adapt to better management engagement within the classroom setting? There are some engagement tools to be used, and these are explored in the post below to create a better educational environment…

Why Engagement is Important for Education Settings

The answer to this question lies in thinking about the overall purpose of education. Why do students sit in classrooms and listen to their teachers? The simplest explanation is that they are there to learn. Therefore, if they are there to learn above all else, engagement strategies become non-negotiable. Students who are not interested in the subject in front of them are far less likely to respond to the material and learn anything. Whereas, if engagement can be promoted and furthermore, retained, there is a chance that even the most detested of subjects can spark some kind of intellectual connection. So, how can this be done? There are a number of strategies worth exploring for educators.

Personalised Trajectories

Every student is different, just like every human being is different. That is why a personalised learning experience supports better engagement. In a workplace, no one would expect employees to sit down and complete tasks in exactly the same way with no room for personal strategy. The classroom should adopt the same policy. Students learn differently because learning styles are varied. So, how can teachers and educators make this experience more personal and therefore, boost engagement? There are a few strategies to try.

Polling Tools

Live polls are an interesting way to figure out what a lesson needs to be successful. Whether you teach English or chemistry, live polling with your students can be adaptable to a range of subject matters, interactions and learning outcomes. Find an easy to use platform and create an interactive experience that will stay in their minds and shape the lessons to suit the people receiving it. As a teacher, it is important to understand what your students need, and you can ask anything from ‘Did you find that interesting?’ (Yes/No) to ‘What do you want to learn next week?’.  In this way, live audience polling is an entirely useful exercise which could yield positive results.

Checking In During Tasks

Another helpful strategy here is to ensure that you are checking-in as opposed to checking-out during classroom tasks. Typical lessons usually run from a start point introducing or continuing a topic. After a certain point of discussion, a task is introduced for promoting independent or collaborative exploration. Whether this is on a computer or a worksheet, or just in a group project, take the time to walk around the room and ask the questions about each learner’s current experience. This way, you can be close by to help if you notice signs of struggle, or encourage if someone is running with a great idea execution.

Real World Interjection

Is there a child out there who doesn’t feel excited at the prospect of a school trip? It doesn’t have to be anything major. Even a walk to the local woodlands will provide plenty of learning opportunities for a range of subjects. Getting outside is great for engagement, and it helps even more to mix up the learning backdrop.

Lesson Downtime

Make sure there is sufficient time for brains to take a break during a lesson. Say, for instance, a lesson lasts for one hour. One hour is a long time to expect young people to fully engage for every second. Allowing downtime where they can do what they need to do to reset or refocus is a smart move and highly efficient strategy. It should be seen less as ‘losing control of the narrative’ and more as ‘this will help the kids to re-engage when it’s time to resume the task at hand’.

Sharing Opportunities

Give the young people in your classroom the opportunity to share with one another. This strategy works for every age group, and it is important not to push a student when they are showing visible discomfort. There will always be a few pupils willing to show the class what they’re doing or spark a discussion about a topic. Giving them the chance to do this means they feel validated to explore their preferred method of knowledge acquisition while encouraging prosocial peer engagement.

Multi-Media Teaching

It’s hard to escape the fact that young people’s lives are highly steered by technology. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, watches, TVs, consoles, they are all a frequent factor in daily life. Hooked into multi-media platforms, children are finding the contrast between that and school difficult and it’s understandable when you look at the bigger picture. However, education can adopt multi-media teaching styles into the classroom to engage the students on their level too.

Engagement Tools and Educational Environment

Engagement Tools and Educational Environment

Introducing Physical Movement

Dysregulation is a major stop sign for so many children at school. There are countless studies that show how physical movement is a heavily regulating factor within a classroom setting. Kids that are regulated will be better able to concentrate on the subject being taught and engage with the material more genuinely. There are lots of reasons why dysregulation occurs from neurodivergent factors to attachment disorders and simpler things like tiredness or stress. Movement can help with all of these by enabling the brain to become more in-sync with the present and regulate, and it doesn’t have to be anything major or disruptive either. Try any of the following:

  • Asking students to come up to the board and back.
  • A brief walk around the classroom.
  • Moving away from expecting students to sit still and be quiet.
  • Allowing wiggling, tapping, free expression etc.

Don’t Be Afraid to Use Humour

A classroom that embraces humour is one that is a naturally more comfortable environment. It is very easy to forget that you can connect on a human level with your students, especially if there are difficulties with behaviour or other barriers to learning happening within the classroom. Teachers that find the most success and authentic educator to learner relationships, and therefore heightened levels of engagement, are ones that embrace this strategy wholeheartedly and create a more comfortable learning experience. Having a laugh with your students is not frowned upon, after all, and it can really help a ‘boring’ topic conclude more rapidly.

Remember, They’re Only Human

Students, regardless of whether they are five or fifteen, are just people. Young people need a different kind of management, nurture and input, but as an educator it is a part of your role to understand this. There will be days, just like you, where there are simply too many insurmountable barriers to engagement. Whether that is trouble at home, hormonal spikes, or general mental health struggles, students deserve empathy and compassion too.

So, it is undeniable that classrooms need active approaches to keeping students engaged. A child or young adult who sits down to learn is far more likely to find success with this journey if their educators are willing to understand and invest time in the individual too. Thankfully, there are plenty of tools as shown in the post above that boost this process.