There is one thing we know about students and that is that they have short attention spans and tend to postpone tasks. This is especially true at the beginning of the academic year. Teacher have to be smart and devise new ways to keep them engaged.
I would like to share some useful ways I gathered along the way, to keep our students motivated which helped me to be a more effective teacher.
Praise students in ways big and small as this always motivates them. Recognize quality work in class, display good work in the classroom and on display boards. Send positive notes home to parents, hold weekly awards in your classroom etc. This approach invariably influences the low achievers too in a positive way.
2. Set high standards
Set high, yet realistic expectations. Make sure to voice those expectations. Set short terms goals and celebrate when they are achieved. Ensure to counsel slow and low achieving students to ensure that they are with the class.
3. Enthusiasm is contagious
Show your enthusiasm in the subject and use appropriate, concrete and understandable examples to help students grasp it. Certain lessons in Maths can become quite dry so we need to create that excitement through games and activities to grab their attention.
4. Use different languages/approaches to learning
It’s a classic concept and the basis for differentiated instruction, but it needs to be said: using a variety of teaching methods caters to all types of learners. By doing this in an orderly way, you can also maintain order in your classroom. A combination of different approaches ensures that all types of learners are engaged.
5. Assign responsibility
With students, create a list of jobs for the week. Using the criteria of your choosing, let students earn the opportunity to pick their classroom jobs for the next week. These jobs can cater to their interests and skills. Appreciating good work here will also energize them apart from developing a sense of ownership, responsibility and accountability.
- Classroom Job Examples
- Classroom admin assistants
- Class Librarian
- Manage classroom display boards
- Post to the Class News Board
- Moderate team games
Standard class jobs like Attendance, Cleaning the boards, putting up chairs, etc.
If students take ownership of what you do in class, then they have less room to complain (though we all know, it’ll never stop completely). Take regular feedback from your class, asking what they enjoy doing, what helps them learn, what they’re excited about after class. Multiple choice might be the best way to start if you predict a lot of “nothing” or “watch movies” answers.
After reviewing the answers, integrate their ideas into your lessons or guide a brainstorm session on how these ideas could translate into class.
7. Reward good work
Students who attended class all week, completed all assignments and obeyed all classroom rules can vote on ‘free time’ activities (play a game, watching a video, acting out a scene from a play or history).
8. Real life connections
Whether it is budgeting for family birthday gifts, choosing short stories about your city/state/country, managing school stores/cafeteria, running a library for your society etc. students will care more if they identify themselves or their everyday lives in what they’re learning.
9. Track Improvement
In those difficult classes, it can feel like a never-ending uphill battle, so try to remind students that they’ve come a long way. Set achievable, short-term goals, emphasis improvement, keep self-evaluation forms to fill out and compare throughout the year, or revisit mastered concepts that they once struggled with to refresh their confidence.
10. Reward Positive Behavior Outside the Classroom
Students end up doing many things outside the classroom like being Prefects, ASSET ambassadors, winning competitions on their own, taking the lead in school/classroom cleaning projects etc. Rewarding with stars or smileys is a great idea to improve the self esteem of students.
11. Plan Dream Field Trips
With your students, brainstorm potential field trips tiered by budget. encourage them to plan and organise such trips. Accordingly reward good behaviour etc. on such trips.
12. Rewarding in other ways
Encourage students to organise game/food stalls at school fairs/carnivals and allow them to buy equipment/books for their classroom with the money earned.