Sunday, March 30, 2014

Are You Engaging or Disengaging Your Students?

When you teach your students, do you find that they are engaged or disengaged in your lesson content? Does it depend on who the students are?  Does it depend on the subject or skills you are teaching?  No matter how boring or complicated the lesson content is, you have the power to engage your students.  Not only will engaging your students help in earning their respect, but it will also lead to them being successful, independent learners.  Before we discuss ways to engage our students, we need to understand exactly what engagement is.  When our students are present in our classrooms during our lessons, they have two options: they can either engage themselves or disengage themselves in the lesson content.  Engagement refers to the students participating in the lesson because they want to.  When students are disengaged, the learning process is merely work; they work because they have to.  Here are some tips that I have found to be very useful to keep my students engaged in the lesson content.

Make the lesson content meaningful and relevant to the students.  Our students will not merely accept that the content that is being taught is of value to them.  On the contrary, in order for them to engage in the lesson content, they need to understand that what is being taught will be useful to them in the future. It is important to include real world applications.

Foster creativity skills.  There is a much greater chance that your students will be engaged in your lessons if you afford your students opportunities to be creative.  When students are creative, they are using their psychological and emotional abilities.  There is no right or wrong answer.  This instills within them a sense of purpose and confidence.  When students are confident of their abilities, they are more likely to engage in the content and succeed.

Lesson content should be exciting.  Your lesson content should engage your students.  If you are excited when you develop your lesson content, then most likely your students will be excited and enthusiastic when learning it.  They will be engaged to learn it and it will not be a chore.  Learning should be fun; we want our students to enjoy their learning.

Develop lesson content that is interactive.  It is important that your students are able to interact with the lesson content - whether you use technology or not.  Providing an interactive, multi-sensory approach to learning is going to afford your students multiple opportunities to interact with lesson content.  The more students interact with lesson content, the greater chance that they will be engaged and will retain the material being taught.

Develop lessons that include authentic learning.  Including authentic learning methods such as project based learning, affords your students multiple opportunities to become immersed in the lesson content.  Through project based learning, students take ownership of their learning and conduct research.  At the same time, their learning is enhanced and they are highly engaged.

I have found the above five tips to creating engaging lessons to be very beneficial in my classroom.  Although I taught lower elementary students, when it comes to engaging your students, age does not matter.  Whether you are teaching preschool, elementary, middle school, high school students or beyond, engaging your students is the key to not only their success, but to your success as an educator as well.

This post was written for a competition held by The Bloggers Lounge and World Class Teachers.

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