Keeping young minds engaged in a classroom is one of the toughest tasks for any teacher. Moreover, these young students’ minds are easily distracted.
There are several reasons for students being unable to concentrate for long in a classroom. It is a challenging task for any teacher to be able to keep students engaged for the entire duration of the class.
Why Students Are Easily Distracted?
Before we try to help teachers with some student engagement strategies, it is important to know some of the reasons why students are easily distracted.
You cannot find a solution without knowing the problem. Therefore, it is pertinent to take note of some of the reasons that easily distract students in a classroom.
1. Learning Difficulties
Every teacher knows that all students do not have the same grasping power. While some students easily secure 100% marks, others struggle to even pass.
Many students may have learning disabilities like ADHD or Dyslexia. These learning disabilities may be one of the reasons students are distracted in a classroom.
However, these problems can easily be overcome by the teacher by adopting the right techniques of teaching, as discussed later on in the article.
2. Complex Study Material
Another reason students may not be able to concentrate in a classroom is that they are unable to comprehend the course material. It may be tough to understand or simply too stressful.
3. Lack of Sleep or Good Nutrition
Lack of good sleep or lack of healthy and nutritious food can be one of the reasons why students cannot concentrate in a classroom. Teachers must reiterate the importance of good sleep and nutritious food.
4. Learning Differences Between the Teacher and Student
Many times students are unable to comprehend what their teacher is trying to convey. This leads to a learning gap and disinterest in the students.
5. Monotonous Classroom Setting
Boring and dull classroom settings can be a demotivating factor for students. There is nothing much a school can do inside a classroom.
The classroom caters to many students at a single time. Most classrooms will have a teacher’s desk, a blackboard, and students’ furniture. This monotonous setting in a classroom can be boring for students.
There are many other reasons students can get distracted or show a lack of interest in a classroom. The main challenge for teachers is how to improve engagement in the classroom.
Fantastic Student Engagement Strategies
Through this article, we have tried to provide student engagement strategies that teachers can adopt in a classroom.
These tips and guidelines can help teachers overcome students’ distractions in the classroom. Although it is not an exhaustive list of guidelines, teachers can adapt these methods to engage students better in a classroom.
1. Incorporate Project-Based Learning
To engage a class it is important to introduce project-based learning in your method of teaching. Project-based learning gives hands-on experience to students and keeps more than one sense in active mod.
Students physically engage in academic activities and involve themselves more in a subject. It also encourages problem solving and collaboration with other students. Many times project-based learning encourages creativity among students.
2. Introduce Reciprocal Teaching Techniques
Reciprocal teaching is a relatively new method of teaching where teachers and students engage in dialogues to understand concepts in a subject. Reciprocal teaching involves four main steps:
Students are encouraged to use these four steps in reciprocal teaching.
There are many advantages of using reciprocal teaching.
- Helps students in continuous thought process
- Allows students to actively participate in the learning process
- Helps introvert students to participate actively
3. Capture the Mood
One of the best ways how to increase student engagement in the classroom is to start the day with a mind-warming up exercise.
It need not necessarily relate to the subject you are going to teach. It can be a pop quiz question, a puzzle, a mind-bender, or a simple general knowledge question. This peps up the students in the morning and gets their minds started for the day.
4. Involve Movement in Your Teaching
Sitting long hours at a desk can be stressful for young students. Involving movement while they learn is one of the most effective student engagement activities.
For example, if your lesson is one of the science topics – muscles and bones of the human body, allow students to move around and feel the movement in their limbs and muscles before starting the lesson.
Doing this student engagement activity can get the students to think on their own before being taught.
Even if you do not want to include a lesson in the activity, it is important to introduce movement in your lesson.
You can play a quick game across the classroom before you start your class or even in between your class if you feel your students are getting distracted during the lesson.
5. Encourage Teamwork
One of the best ways how to increase classroom engagement is by encouraging teamwork in-class activities. Teamwork allows students to communicate with friends and classmates during class hours.
This breaks the monotony. Talking and chatting and even discussing with friends during class hours can be a great stress reliever for students.
6. Allow Written Feedback
After a lesson has been completed, you can allow students to write down what they felt about the lesson.
You can ask them to answer questions like was it difficult to understand? Which part did you not understand? Was the class boring?
The idea behind making this a written session is that many students may not be willing to give honest feedback openly in a classroom.
However, students may be able to express themselves better through written, anonymous notes to the teacher.
So, through these notes, the teacher will be able to gauge how well students were engaged in the classroom. This feedback gives the teacher an idea of how to improve things in the next class.
7. Use Randomness While Approaching Students
Another way how to improve engagement in the classroom is to pick students randomly in the class to speak in front of the class or present a paper.
The reason we stress randomness is that students will be alert at all times, thinking their names may be called.
If a teacher goes in alphabetical order, or in order of seating, then students will be less attentive. They will be attentive only when their turn arrives.
8. Ask Questions that Allow Individual Thinking
An effective student engagement strategy is to ask questions that do not have a fixed single answer. You can ask questions that have many answers that are right or questions that allow students to come up with their own opinions.
This way, all students can think at their own level and come up with answers. There will be no fear from students of being wrong.
For example, in a math class, you can ask students different ways to arrive at the answer 56. While some students may answer 7X8 otters may answer 50+5+1 and so on.
So, here, the plus point is you have got students to think in different ways and arrive at the answer.
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9. Don’t Stick to A Single Teaching Style
It is important that you do not become “that boring teacher.” For effective student engagement, it is necessary that you use multiple methods of teaching every time you enter the class. Allow students to keep wondering what interesting method you will adopt today.
On one day you can turn the classroom into a debate zone and on another day you can plan a teaching session outdoors. Keep mixing your teaching style to keep the students engaged in your classes.
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10. Introduce Fun Games in Your Teaching Style
One of the most effective ways how to improve engagement in the classroom is by introducing games and fun activities.
There are many websites and online portals which have fun games you can introduce in classrooms. Play these games to engage students in a bit of fun while learning.
11. Audio-Visual Aids and Props
While teaching, use audio-visual aids and props. This makes learning fun for students. Seeing a video of the French revolution is by far more interesting than reading about it in a textbook.
12. Maintain a Good Rapport with Students
It is every teacher’s dream to be able to have the best rapport with students. However, some teachers find it difficult to have a good rapport with students while still maintaining teacher-student formal relationships.
Being able to find the right balance is a knack that only some teachers possess. Try to maintain a good rapport with students so that students do not hesitate to inform you of their learning difficulties and other student-related problems.
13. Outdoor Engagement
Believe it or not, increasing student engagement in the classroom can be made more effective with outdoor learning.
Research indicates that fieldwork, properly conceived, adequately planned, well taught, and effectively followed up, offers learners opportunities to develop their knowledge and skills in ways that add value to their everyday experiences in the classroom.
14. Free Seating Arrangements
An important student engagement strategy is to allow free seating to students. Allow them to sit next to their friends in a class.
Allowing students this freedom will help them engage better in the class. Some students feel comfortable with known people around them.
When you allow students to sit with their friends, they will be comfortable and may be able to concentrate better.
The teaching profession is a noble profession. It takes determination, grit, and knowledge to be a teacher and one of the best features of a teacher is being able to engage the classroom.
Although it may take years of experience for a teacher to be able to engage a classroom for the whole duration, it is not impossible.