This is a guest post from Albert Roberts, a secondary school teacher in Essex, UK. If you are interested in contributing to the Edmodo Blog, please complete this form.
Creating a consistent level of engagement with your students can be a challenge. As well as working out the different needs of a classroom, you have to find ways to get individual students excited about work, and ready to take part in activities that are going to make that work relatable. As a teacher, you should look towards finding ways to diversify and provide fresh takes on the same subjects, while being creative with online media, and looking for ways to collaborate with other teachers.
To help you encourage engagement, here are my top tips:
- Respond to Different Students’ Needs
Not every student is going to have the same response to work and your teaching methods; it takes time to be able to identify what the different needs of a classroom are, and what their ability levels may be. Think carefully about how to tailor your teaching to students so that you aren’t damaging engagement by rushing through things; work out some different methods to try or adapt if you’re finding that previously successful approaches aren’t as effective with a new class.
- Make Use of Online Media
You can help to generate engagement by introducing and developing subjects through online media – this might involve employing websites (like Edmodo), Powerpoint presentations with linked clips from YouTube, and digital whiteboards to make subjects more relevant and more dynamic for students to respond to. Revision and learning apps can also be an effective way of getting students to engage with work outside of the classroom, as can providing comprehensive forums and extra teaching materials on a school website.
- Get One to One Contact with Students
Many students in large classes can experience isolation if they’re not engaging with the work, and are being looked over in terms of their difficulties; try to make yourself available to see students during the week outside of normal classroom hours, even if this is only an hour or so a week. You can also encourage students to contact you via email to discuss anything they’re concerned about.
- Encourage Student Discussion
While providing in depth lectures can be a good thing, you can reduce student engagement by having them switch off and lose their attention span. Instead, focus on breaking up an average lesson to include plenty of group work and questions and answers, as well as moving students around a classroom to interact in different ways.
- Find Positive Activities Beyond the Classroom
As well as more traditional school trips, you can also focus on looking for specific opportunities to link whatever you’re teaching into a location or activity; doing so doesn’t necessarily have to be that expensive, and can just mean getting out of the classroom on a sunny day to give students a change in perspective.
- Recognise Students from Different Backgrounds
As with taking the time to assess the different needs of a classroom, you also need to look for when students from varied backgrounds are having trouble getting to grips with work – find out what kinds of teaching approaches they’ve had in the past, as well as what they’re familiar with.
- Give Students Freedom to Work Independently
While having a good structure is crucial to any form of teaching, it’s also important to provide opportunities for independent learning – higher ability students that might not be engaged with day to day classroom work can be directed towards additional reading and extra projects, which might include contributing to blogs hosted by the school.
- Look for Inspiration from Other Teachers
Take the time to research other approaches taken by teachers to engagement, as well as discussing it with them; speak to other teachers in your school, and use online forums to keep up to date with new ideas and problems that are being experienced by a range of different people.
Do you have additional tips to share? Please post in the comments.