Ever sat in a boring faculty meeting or professional development workshop? I’ve had more than my fair share. I can remember how I felt in that very moment but what I don’t recall is what the presenter was saying even if the information was important. Imagine how students feel day after day in a boring class. Are you a teacher who struggles from time to time with engaging your students?
Engaging your learners is imperative to good instruction. I have observed many classrooms that I wanted to fall asleep in. I was ready to go after just 5 minutes, so I can only imagine how those students felt day after day. While it is true that every lesson won’t be as exciting as others, if your students were asked about your class overall, boring should NEVER be an adjective used! The first thing you need to focus on is what should students know, understand, and be able to do. But the most important part is planning how students will get there. Planning interactive and engaging lessons takes time (Edwards, 2018), but if you do it correctly, it will be worth the effort.
One thing I used to do as a classroom teacher is make sure students were involved in their learning. Student autonomy is necessary. Additionally, students loved to talk and they were going to talk anyway, so what not control their discussions? I never liked a quiet classroom, so I would make sure to include student role cards (Found Here) during collaborative work. More examples can be found in Achieving Success in Inner City Schools, A Guide for New and Seasoned Teachers, 2018.
To get your students engaged, let me suggest (for now) three ways to do so. (Sometimes too many can seem overwhelming).
Movement always gets students going. Don’t let students stay seated the entire class period. Gone are the days that we allow students to read from a text- book and answer discussion questions at the end of the chapter. Students have to be engaged in lessons. For example, instead of reading about the Solar System, allow students to use themselves as models to recreate it (Edwards, 2018). There are many more strategies in the section Teaching Methods in Strategies, of my book. Get it today, you won’t regret it!
Hip Hop Pioneer, “Sparky D”engaging with students.
2. Capture your students’ interest. Know what your students like. Mind you, each class may have a different vibe, so it’s important to hone in on their distinctive traits. I was once teaching a Unit on Argument. The district’s textbook suggestion was a good one, but not for my students. I decided to make the unit more interesting. Students participated in a Hip Hop v. America argumentative Unit. Students loved music as I did, and I would often engage in conversations about their favorite musical artist. Part of my reward system was to allow music at times. During this Unit, we researched the history of various genres of music, engaged in discussions and debates while using argumentative techniques, wrote argumentative essays and quick-writes/journals. Additionally, we analyzed lyrics and articles, students created their own lyrics and performed creative pieces based on certain criterias. I was able to use the theme and align each activity to address the state standards. We even had a special guest who was the parent of one of my students, Hip Hop pioneer SparkyD! The student recruited her mom to come in because of her musical background. She spoke about the history of Hip Hop and the transformation to Rap music. Years earlier, the BET network had a debate where several celebrities was on the panel to discuss this topic, so I further engaged students by showing clips from the debate; it sparked even more conversations. The entire Unit was a Go! Students challenged me to keep them engaged, so it was a win-win situation. Additionally, even after our guest, SparkyD’s child graduated, the parent worked on a mentoring program for girls right at the school. It was a great way to build a home-school relationship.
Spark D speaks further to students.
3. Include games and competition. Who doesn’t like a good game? A good friendly competition ain’t never hurt nobody. “Healthy competition and participation pushes participants to excel! Don’t shy away from incorporating it. Keep the competition fair with students of similar abilities. Include team captains (they were always used to help keep the group on task). Remember, as you create healthy, engaging competitions, the ultimate goal is that students are eager to learn. It will definitely boost student engagement and motivation.” (Edwards, 2018). Strategies can be found in my book. Get it today; invest in yourself.
If instruction is boring, students will make you aware. Sometimes it is not verbal, but through discipline issues (Edwards, 2018). There is never a need to reinvent the wheel, there are so many great resources already created by our colleagues near and far. Search the web and modify the lesson to fit the needs of your students. I highly recommend getting my book. There are so many strategies and ideas that can be adopted and implemented right now. Get it HERE!
…and I hope these few words find you well,