A question that haunts every teacher from time to time – how do I improve student engagement when attention spans appear to be getting shorter every year? It does not matter if it is primary or high school, a majority of teachers are dealing with the challenge of retaining pupil engagement in the classroom. We live in a time and age where all of us like to keep our smartphones handy all the time. And it starts now at a young age. This does not help improve attention spans in the classroom.
While some kids follow the teacher diligently in class, others lose interest when it comes to listening to the teacher, feeling engaged or participating in class. Engaged students grasp topics more easily, learn more efficiently and are more successful at remembering what they learned. In fact, students who are more involved in classroom sessions are more likely to become passionate about learning in the long run.
Student engagement is one of those buzz phrases that’s been doing the rounds in the staff rooms, parent-teacher meetings, and school hallways. But do we really understand its true essence and how it can change or transform a child’s learning curve for the better? If we go by definition, student engagement is a student’s cognitive investment, active participation in, and emotional commitment to their learning. It is essentially one of the byproducts of effective instruction that has major payoffs.
If you are worried like most teachers about maintaining student engagement through an entire lesson in the classroom, there are certain things you should think about incorporating into the way you teach. Use these tips listed below to keep their attention in the classroom instead of the noise in the hallway or the view outside the classroom windows.
1. Make lessons more interactive and encourage open discussion
Any time a teacher stands behind their podium and starts to lecture or read for a long period of time out of a textbook, students lose interest in the lesson and eventually mentally check out. If this is your teaching style, you need to change it for the betterment of your students. Try and make your classes more interactive, where students are encouraged to participate actively. Creating more interactive lessons that will have students paying attention and constantly participating by answering questions.
2. Use Technology Frequently
Todays’ students have grown up in a digital age, therefore, instead of viewing technology as a distraction, schools should be leveraging technology to increase student engagement. In fact, most educators believe that education and pedagogy should be transformed from kindergarten through post-secondary. They’re also of the opinion that currently schools are failing to meet the needs of students who’re gearing up for a future that’s going to be rich in advanced technology. To ensure that students get most out of any lesson, it is essential that the content is presented in a way that it has a clear meaning and resonates with the learners. Technology in the classroom should be such that it should facilitate not just learning but also seamless student-student and student-teacher interaction and collaboration. These days technology is often brought under the scanner for shortening attention spans in all of us, but technology can also be a great thing as long as it is used the correct way in education. Use your students’ love of computers and interactive whiteboards by integrating it into all of your lessons. You could also use a learning management system or educational software so students don’t have to jot down notes in class and can submit all of their work online.
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3. Keep your sessions concise
If you have an hour to teach a subject every day, you don’t want to spend the entire time on just one time or you will lose your students. Instead, break them up into mini-lessons that are different enough from one another to maintain their focus. Spending 15 minutes on an interactive session, 15 minutes on reading, 15 minutes on videos and presentations that pertain to the lesson, and 15 minutes of quiz time to break the monotony of a long, boring class.
4. Combine Education with Entertainment
If the environment, in which the students are taught is sterile and lacks context, they automatically get disinterested. One of my friends is a high school Math teacher. He told me his secret to maintain pupil engagement is to make the lesson as entertaining as possible. Any speech or lecture that you have ever heard that involved humor made you sit up and listen because you didn’t want to miss a good laugh. More and more teachers are turning to edutainment in an effort to increase student engagement in the classroom.
If you are concerned about keeping all of your students’ attention to your lessons in the classroom, eins.ai may be able to help. eins.ai is a combination of AI-powered Cognitive tools for teaching and software for the education ecosystem which could help you in the classroom for years to come.
This article was first published on eins.ai on 27 March 2019 with permission to share from the writer