The ideas here have certainly been shared on the site before, but I thought a fresh look at them might be helpful, as many of us continue to look for ideas to spark the new year and bring more engagement to our classrooms. – KW
Students getting bored… teachers don’t see that as much of a problem. Education has always been boring to some extent.
Well, guess what: boredom is a problem. A big one!
We cannot expect students to come to our classrooms inspired. As teachers, we have a responsibility to trigger their inner motivation. You know what bored students mean for us, don’t you? A boring job. To make our job less boring, we have to engage them more. We can do that through a different approach towards teaching: more engaging and enjoyable lessons.
Let’s see how you can make your lessons less boring and more engaging, and even let you throw in a laugh from time to time.
- Relate the Lessons to Real-Life Scenarios
Let’s say you’re assigning an essay. There are two ways to do that:
- Give them general instructions, explain what you expect, and wait for the students to deliver the projects by the deadline; or
- Give them the instructions and explain what you expect, but relate the assignment to the real world round them with concrete examples of how the topic can be relevant to their lives.
The second method wins, hands down. When you connect the assignment to their lives, they will be likely to take more ownership of it.
- Gamify the Educational Process
It doesn’t matter whether your students are 8, 18, or 38 years old; gamification can be a powerful aid! When you’re looking for a way to keep your students engaged, try to introduce a game in the classroom.
- If, for example, you’re teaching science, your students can have a vocabulary contest. You’ll give them words of scientific concepts, and they will have to explain them.
- If you’re teaching history, you can play a memory game, so you’ll inspire them to remember the dates.
- If you’re teaching literature, you can play a storytelling game. You’ll start with the prompt, and each student will add a sentence, so you’ll get a short story through teamwork.
- In higher ed, similar techniques can be used, adopted for older students.
There are limitless opportunities for gamification. This concept makes your teaching really fun.
- Take It Outside
If you’re teaching about something that can be seen outdoors, move the class outside. It’s a simple strategy that never fails. The mere fact of being outside the classroom will make your students more relaxed, but more engaged at the same time.
- Tell Anecdotes
Whatever lesson you’re teaching, you’re surely mentioning names. If, for example, you’re teaching about Newton’s laws of motion, you can share an anecdote related to Newton. Maybe it won’t have anything to do with the actual lesson. However, it will help them remember the name, and it will surely be the highlight of your lecture.
Anecdotes work as attention-grabbers, especially when they are funny.
- Use Technology!
While we realize that pedagogy always comes first, technology can offer many ways to bring an element of engagement to lessons and assignments. Articles on this site offer many tips (check out 27 Meaningful Ways to Use EdTech & Make Your Classes Extra Awesome This Year! for a rich set of ideas).
- Make the Lessons Interactive
Are you used to traditional lecturing? You know; the kind when you stand in front of the classroom, present the lesson, and ask if anyone has questions in the end?
That doesn’t always work. Granted, some teachers are great lecturers, and a good lecture can be a thing of beauty, but sometimes being more interactive is the ticket.
Get the students involved throughout the lesson, so you’ll make sure they are paying attention. If you can be both interactive and collaborative, all the better! Explore these 20 Fun Free Tools for Interactive Classroom Collaboration for some ideas.
- Let Them Move
Be honest: would you be happy if someone forced you to sit all day long? As a teacher, you certainly like to move around the classroom, since you don’t want to be stuck in place. Your students share your aversion to being stuck.
Give them tasks that will get them moving. You can divide them in teams and allow many students to sit in a group. They will be free to stand up when they speak, or move around the classroom to see what the other teams are doing. There is a lot of scientific evidence indicating that the brain learns better when we are physically active.
We hope these ideas spark a change in your classroom! Let us know if you have other favorite techniques of your own!
Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/zFSo6bnZJT