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How to engage students and encourage them to listen
Children have a naturally inquisitive nature so luckily for teachers they are willing to learn, but they can also be quickly distracted by the excitement created by their fellow pupils. A child's willingness to learn is great for teachers, but without high levels of engagement, issues can easily develop in the classroom. The good news is that there are a variety of techniques which can help teachers improve engagement and encourage their students to focus.
1. Establish a routine
The key to maintaining the attention of students is to create a routine which students know they need to stick to. If the class begins to lose interest, instead of spending too long on a specific point use a voice which demands attention and quickly return to the agreed lesson structure. Pupils who lose interest easily will be able to maintain focus if they already know the structure the lesson will follow.
2. Use a cross-curriculum approach
There are some subjects which appeal to students more than others, so using a cross-curriculum approach can improve pupils focus. For example, within a maths lesson if the students start to lose interest it is possible to incorporate other subject areas which are of interest, such as science, art or technology. Try to look for ways to combine topics which may not be as stimulating with areas which will appeal to the group as a whole.
3. Reward the great students
No matter what the age group is, all children appreciate rewards. If the class know there is the potential for a reward they are more likely to pay attention for longer. Some great examples are the wide variety of art and craft supplies for schools such as brightly coloured folders, exercise books and pens. Although some teachers may see this as a bribe initially, the real reward is clear when the students start to absorb more information.
4. Make interaction fun
Improving interaction within the classroom is a great way to improve engagement. Instead of asking pupils to voice their opinion or response by raising a hand, ask them to design a colourful hand pointer. It is a fun activity to use at the start of the term and the only supplies needed are cardboard and colouring pencils. It is a great way to keep noise levels in the classroom low while encouraging quieter students to engage in a way in which they do not have to shout above others.
5. Use technology to bring lessons to life
An increasing number of classrooms are using technology to create interactive lessons. Technology is a great way to bring lessons to life in a much quicker and more engaging way than the traditional chalkboard. Children are immersed in technology at home, so in many cases a traditional board approach can seem boring in comparison. It is much easier to encourage students to listen if they are learning in a way which appeals to their own interests.
6. Plan activities for those who finish tasks quickly
In every classroom there are pupils which finish tasks, tests and quizzes quicker than others. This can lead to issues if these students become restless and begin to distract the remaining pupils, who need a calm and quiet atmosphere. To reduce the chance of boredom creeping in plan some quiet activities, such as simple puzzle sheets, word games or quizzes. These can be quickly designed on the computer and printed within a few minutes on standard printer paper.
7. Create a time for talking
It may seem like an unusual approach, but establishing a time for talking within the lesson can improve the levels of concentration at other times. This can be achieved in a structured way which encourages them to listen to the content of the lesson, for example, at unknown times ask different students to repeat what they have just heard. Students will not know when they could be chosen, so are likely to pay attention to the lesson content. If you are looking to adopt a more casual approach, set aside some free time to talk at a mid-point within the lesson. Every classroom is different, so it is worth experimenting until you find a technique which works for you.