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Keeping Kids Engaged In School; The Secret

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By: Amanda Wagoner, MAT

Keeping Kids Engaged In School; The Secret

Ah, the classroom!

Filled with learning, fun, work, breakthroughs, and the occasional challenge (sometimes more frequent than others)…

An easily overlooked classroom phenomenon is the elusive child engagement within the four walls of a classroom.

Sometimes, parents come in to observe or help during school… and I’ve had more than one be completely shocked by how well THEIR child is paying attention (let alone the 20-30 other children in the room)!

But how does that happen?

How can teachers so often gain control of an environment containing so many little personalities and SO MUCH ENERGY?

The short answer is a TON of trial and error, long days, longer nights, and learning from other experts who have been through it…

Student engagement is an area in all schools in which teachers at some point have trouble in.

Student disengagement occurs for several reasons including, but not limited to:

  • Class Is Boring To The Student
  • The Student Doesn’t Like The Teacher
  • The Information Is Not Understood
  • Material Being Taught Is Not Relevant

Many times when this occurs, students tend to have off-task behaviors such as:

  • Putting Their Head Down
  • Sleeping In Class
  • Talking To Peers
  • Acting Out

When students struggle academically and/or behaviorally, they try to hide the embarrassment with off-task behaviors.

However, one way to help student engagement is by having a multidimensional construct.

Student Engagement In School – Multidimensional Construct 

When focusing on multidimensional constructs, the evidence-based student engagement can either by observable or internal.

Observable Engagement

Observable engagement can be either academic or behavioral or even both.

Some examples of this type of engagement include:

  • Time On Task
  • Task Completion
  • Class Activities Engagement
  • Effort
  • Participation
  • Attention
  • Involvement

When looking for internal engagement, this can consist of either cognitive or affective types.

Cognitive Internal Engagement;

  • Personal Goals
  • Autonomy
  • The Value Of Learning And Success In School

Affective Internal Engagement

  • Sense of Belonging
  • Motivation to learn
  • Students Taking Responsibility For Their Own Learning
  • Positive Feelings About The Learning Process

The multidimensional student engagement is interrelated, and each part affects the others! These parts include;

  • Affective
  • Behavioral
  • Academic
  • Cognitive Engagement

Evidenced-based engagement helps to promote positive teacher/student relationships, allows for the use of a variety of both materials and strategies to ensure student engagement during lessons.

This type of engagement also allows for actively monitoring how children react and providing ongoing, specific feedback.

This engagement also allows for the building of positive relationships, which is key to student success.

Some of the ways this can be achieved include:

  1. Teachers’ proactive approach in taking an interest in the student’s lives.
  2. Build those connections to students’ lives through academic and pop culture.
  3. Greet students each day before class.
  4. Use the first 3-5 minutes of class to ask students about a particular area of interest.
  5. Incorporate those interests into the lessons.

Other ways to build student engagement and positive relationships are:

  1. Select materials that connect students to the content in a more personal way.
  2. Acknowledge, celebrate, and understand students’ diverse backgrounds.
  3. Invite parents to be an active part of the classroom.

Parents play a crucial role in their child’s education!

Parents set the tone for the educational setting by their past experiences and their personal beliefs about teachers.

Teacher And Student Led Engagement Strategies

Other ways to build student engagement is through teacher and/or student-led engagement strategies.

Teacher-led strategies are proactive and can include:

  1. High rates/multiple opportunities to respond to various prompts and questions in multiple formats. Examples include;
    1. Oral questioning
    2. Response cards
    3. Technology
  2.  Frequent check-ins to make sure students understand the material, written, verbal, or gestural prompting throughout the lesson, positive reinforcement. Examples include
    1. Giving lots of verbal praise
    2. Reward system

Student-led strategies can consist of:

  1. Students working in pairs or groups.
  2. Promoting collaborative learning.
  3. Using technology to enhance engagement. Including;
    1. Interactive whiteboards
    2. Individual computers
  4. Opportunities to try new skills/concepts with independence,
  5. Creates many opportunities to take on the expert role.

As you can see, there are a LOT of different techniques available to keep children engaged in a classroom setting! The best part is that some of these can be used at home too!

As a parent, what are some strategies you’ve used at home to keep your child engaged in homework, or other learning activities?

Please leave your comment below… we would LOVE to hear what works for you!

~Amanda



This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 27th, 2019 at 6:10 pm and is filed under Special Education Teaching and tagged as , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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