12 Easy Strategies to Engage Students


Classroom Tips
Share This:


Classroom Tips
Share This:

All is fair in love and relief teaching classroom. Any little help to engage and motivate the students is appreciated.

Relief Teaching is Tough

Teachers need to have a chance just to take a breather every now and then.

Most of the time being in front of a class and trying to motivate students to make a difference, charge. And if kids learn… well that’s good too!

Four key things will often cause students to lose concentration and go off task:

  1. Content Repetition
  2. Content Difficulty
  3. Content Overload
  4. Content is not Student-Driven.

Here are 12 easy and practical strategies that you can employ to help overcome these and effectively engage students in your classroom, whether you are a full-time teacher, contract teacher or a relief teacher for the day.

Strategies for Content Repetition

How many times can you study nouns before interest starts to wane?

There will be a need to revisit content from time to time, but you often don’t need to take the whole class on the journey. Try these ways to bring students back to the fold.

1 | Determine Prior Knowledge

This could simply be a matter of asking the students what they know about the topic being studied. You could brainstorm in groups and have students prepare content maps.

This is a great way to build readiness for learning. As well as finding what the students know, you also build a readiness to learn.

In the brainstorming groups, students get a chance to peer-tutor each other.

Students feel a greater connection to the learning if they are ready to learn.

2 | Group Work Activities

Group work is a powerful learning motivator – but an activity that generates a fair bit of noise.

Teachers don’t like noise, so group work is not done often.

But you only need to look into the adult world to find that group work is an engaging activity for participants.

3 | Peer Tutoring

Peer tutoring is not only great for engaging students but it also

  • builds mastery, and
  • helps with behaviour management and
  • task involvement.

Extend peer tutoring to have students build activities for each other. For example, have students build crosswords for other students.

Strategies for Content Difficulty

Students need to see themselves as effective learners before they will engage with the content. Ensure that students believe they have the skills to understand the content before expecting them to engage.

4 | Question Box

Build an anonymous question box where students can insert questions, issues, and critical elements without fear of ridicule.

Perhaps the students don’t understand but do not want to be recognised by others as not understanding. Use the anonymous entries as discussion starters for all.

5 | Buddy Groups

This could be a long term or a short term option. It could also be a supportive network or peer tutoring network to make these groups flexible.

Students will often confide in peers before you. And peer groups are often more supportive.

6 | Construct Expert Groups

This is a great way of engaging students in ONE aspect of the content. It could be used to provide differentiation as well.

Break the content into smaller bits and have small groups become EXPERTS in that aspect. Students can then present these to the whole group.

Strategies to Address Content Overload

We all know that pace of learning is FAST. Everyone expects teachers to build mastery overnight.

Rushing learning is bad for teachers but it is DISASTROUS for engaging students.

7 | Use Bite-size Pieces

We know how to eat an elephant. (What? You have never eaten an elephant?)

Start with small chunks and keep on chewing.

Students lose interest very fast. As a rule of thumb, students stay focused for the same number of minutes as their age.

Even teenagers will start to lose focus after 13-15 minutes. Regroup activities into smaller more manageable components.

8 | Maintain Connection

Try to vary the connection with the learning by varying the activity.

Don’t give the students all the information. Keep engaging students with different learning tasks.

Dead space is a recipe for misbehaviour. Have a clozure activity ready to go as soon as you recognise restlessness.

9 | Give the Outcome First

Let students know what you hope to achieve. If they don’t know where they are going, they are less likely to participate in the voyage.

Content is Not Student Driven

We all know that the teacher has to teach. That is only successful if the student learns.

It might be a shock, but school is for students – not teachers.

10 | Make Students More Active than You

Look constructively at your lesson and visualise for whom the activity is more important. Avoid being one of those teachers that do all the work.

Talking from the front is great for the tutorial, but if the students aren’t focused, they aren’t learning.

11 | Learned Helplessness

Don’t be too quick to offer help. Challenge the students to problem solve themselves. Encourage them to look at the mistakes with new eyes.

Engaging students is all about helping them look for answers, not giving them answers.

12 | Use Powerful Questions

Good questioning techniques make a difference in a lesson’s success.

Use questions that require much more thinking than a simple YES/NO.

Previous Post
Improving Communication Between You and Your Students
Next Post
Teacher Strategies for Motivating Students Who Don’t Care

Related Posts