Keeping students engaged is one of the number one tasks a teacher has to perform on a daily basis. Engaged students stay focused, perform better and get higher grades. So how do we keep students engaged and focused throughout the school day, even when in subjects they don't excel at?
While it is the students' responsibility to be good pupils, teachers can do their part by taking a few extra steps to make lessons more interesting and the classroom experience more productive overall. Here are a few of our favorite suggestions for capturing student attention and helping them focus in the classroom:
Be spontaneous – The unexpected always draws attention, and a teacher doing spontaneous things – actions that show their humanity – is an important way to connect with students. It helps them understand the teacher better as a person, not just a role model or authority figure, and promotes a closer connection between them. This also helps to engage the student in ways that gets them more interested in what the teacher is saying.
Change of scenery – From field trips to simply teaching class outside, moving students into a new environment can be a critical way to increase focus and engagement. Even changing up classroom decor once a week can keep them on their toes.
Create a "self-running" classroom – According to Hot Chalk, a "self-running" classroom ensures that students keep themselves and each other engaged, allowing the teacher more time to teach, rather than "administrate." When teachers establish expectations through routine, engaging activities and procedures, students will know what they need to do and when, leaving little time to become distracted.
Implement time management – Teaching students better time management skills and having them put them to use will be beneficial for them as well, ensuring they learn the importance of getting their work done as efficiently as possible.
Make lessons interactive – One of the best ways to help students focus is to make the lessons they are taught more interactive. Turning any assignment into a game, incorporating music, video and other activities that students can join in with, rather than simply sit and watch, will keep them focused.
Teach the importance of ownership – Teaching students that they own their work and actions will encourage them not only to do better work, but make every action they perform one they can be proud of. The ownership spirit applies to all parts of life and by incorporating it early teachers can help instill the idea of owning every part of a process, not just the outcome.
Use goal setting – Have students set goals for projects and activities and help them create a strategy for achieving those goals. Ownership is centered around destination thinking, and teaching students early on how to use the destination thinking model for their lessons will help them apply it to other areas of life later on.
The best way to improve student engagement and focus is to help them become better students. Bringing these seven ways to improve student focus into the classroom will encourage student ownership and accountability, core tenets of the Own It! Program. Explore the work we are doing with the program to discover other ways to enhance student's chances at success in life, academically and personally.