Scientists have observed that one of the most significant downsides of the recent digital revolution is that people, particularly children, have shorter and shorter attention spans. It is just too easy for them to have their attention diverted by something that interests them – a superhero or a cartoon, or even candies. In such times, keeping a student’s attention engaged is one of the biggest challenges a teacher may face, and various teacher training courses try to rectify that by training teachers with new strategies for keeping students’ attention.
These programmes and strategies they teach can help the teachers as they too must gear up and meet the challenge head-on. This article will discuss the various strategies, activities, and tips that can come in handy in this regard.
General tips for ensuring student engagement
The following are some of the tips that, if followed, can help make all the lessons, in general, a lot more engaging:
- The first and one of the most important tips for preparing a lesson in an engaging way is to prepare the whole course in advance with a focus on learning objectives. Tools like Bloom’s Taxonomy can be used as a framework for devising more comprehensive learning objectives.
- Ensure that each learning objective has reasonable time to cover it. When teachers hurry, students won’t learn much. To ensure that one has enough time for various lessons, make a timetable with some spare time for contingencies as one may have to slow down on certain concepts if the students are failing to understand them.
- Plan teaching methods for each learning objective. There may be various teaching methods and strategies such as visualisation, interrogative, differentiating, technology-based, instructive, etc. This article will discuss some of these strategies in a while.
- Create enough room in the timetable for various non-academic learning objectives such as behavioural management, character development activities, etc.
- Practice the lessons in advance. This is of particular importance. Even though one’s audience is just kids, it is still an audience, and it is still public speaking. One should make a point of speaking well; for this, one must practice the lesson beforehand by, for example, speaking before a mirror. Otherwise, students lose interest as teachers fumble around with lessons.
- One should also strive for self-improvement by participating in various teacher training programmes. These programmes not only teach new strategies but can provide refreshers in what teachers may have already learned in their courses to become a teacher.
Strategies for keeping students engaged in the lesson
So far, the tips discussed were general purpose only – that applies to all the lessons. The strategies that shall be discussed should only be applied according to their suitability with the learning objective.
The following are some of the most important strategies that can help one keep the student engaged in the lesson:
- One should try to add audio and video cues to one’s lessons whenever possible. These cues can be pictures from the books, pictures from charts taken out on a chart, recordings, graphs, models (such as that heart or brain), maps, pictures of news clippings, and even videos occasionally. The students are more likely to pay attention when it is not merely the teacher’s voice, they are supposed to pay attention to.
- One should not shy away from using technology to increase student engagement if it can keep students engaged. One can give assignments to be prepared in a text editor, for example, if students are learning about the same and find it interesting. The use of technology can also make the life of a teacher easier.
- One can also refer to cultural icons that are popular among children, such as cartoons, and superheroes, if there is an occasion for the same in the lesson.
- One should engage students by asking questions. Students are more likely to pay attention if they believe that they may have to speak during the lesson.
- One can also divide students into smaller groups and give them projects or subjects to discuss. Not only will it make students apply their minds more actively to the lesson on hand, but it will also encourage social engagement among them. While doing so, it is essential to mix and match students with various abilities and also to make sure that a single student is not monopolising the work of the entire group.
- One should have students speak as much and as often as possible. In this regard, too, it is crucial to ensure that a few students are doing most of the talking and driving the lesson forward while others are left behind as mere spectators.
- One should incentivize students to help each other as well. Students should be asked to correct each other’s errors and to answer the doubts of others in a polite and encouraging manner.
- Various games and quizzes can be played occasionally, that are based on the themes of lessons.
- Students should be encouraged to ask questions whenever they have doubts. It is important that a teacher should make sure that all students will feel comfortable enough to ask questions, even if it means devoting a little more time to making shy ones open up.
- One should also encourage students to make different kinds of projects relating to their subjects.
- Students should be given various tasks and activities that should develop a sense of responsibility in them. While doing this, it must be ensured that all students have at least some kind of responsibility.
Needless to say, a teacher need not employ all these strategies for every single lesson, but they should be deployed according to suitability. It is also important that the teacher should mix and match them to avoid monotony.
The Bottom Line
One can easily wrap up the above discussion by concluding that keeping students’ attention in a present-day world is a challenge, and the above strategies can help one a great deal in this regard while helping one become a favourite teacher as well.