Learning results go hand-in-hand with focused attention. Below, some strategies to keep your students engaged.
As we discussed in Part 1 of Getting Students Motivated, the biggest question teachers ask me is: “How do I motivate my students?” Design Question 5, Engaging Students, lists strategies designed to engage or re-engage students:
Element 24: Being aware of when students are drifting off. The sooner a teacher realizes students are not engaged, the sooner he or she can implement a strategy to re-engage them.
Element 25: Provide a game that combines academic learning with having fun.
Element 26: Use questioning to spark students’ attention.
Element 27: Engage students physically, to get their blood pumping and energize them.
Element 28: Provide for smooth transitions, change the tempo and activities of the class and keep students engaged.
Element 29: Being enthusiastic and showing a love for what you are teaching goes a long way with students.
Element 30: Help students look at issues from many different perspectives, particularly controversial perspectives that hold students’ attention.
Element 31: Allow students to talk and connect their personal stories to the lesson, thus empowering students.
Element 32: Providing students with unusual information regarding the lesson sparks their interest.
Establishing and Maintaining Effective Relationships with Students, the focus of Design Question 8, is one of the best ways to motivate students. In The Art and Science of Teaching (2007), Marzano notes that teachers should provide students with guidance and control, and at the same time establish a classroom environment of cooperation and concern. In other words, teachers should strive to provide students with a structured, safe, and orderly classroom environment, but make sure students also feel part of a friendly community, where they can take risks without being afraid of not being “cool”.
A structured, safe, and orderly classroom is built into Design Question 1, Establishing Learning Goals, Tracking Student Progress, and Celebrating Success, Design Question 6, Establishing Rules and Procedures, and its sister, Design Question 7, Recognizing Adherence to Rules and Procedures. If teachers establish and communicate learning goals, communicates classroom rules and practices their procedures, and enforces the rules fairly, consistently, and objectively, students will feel that their teacher has a cooperative spirit and truly cares. So take time to understand your students’ backgrounds and interests. Stay positive in your interactions with them. It will make a big difference in keeping them engaged.
Finally, all teachers need to make a special effort to motivate low-expectancy students. Design Question 9, Communicating High Expectations for All Students, offers strategies to help us connect with our neediest students. By using the strategies from Design Questions, 5, 7, and 8 and monitoring all students, particularly our low-expectancy students, we can make sure all students stay engaged and are learning.
We’ll have lots of information, training, tools and tips on student engagement at this summer’s Marzano conference, Building Expertise. Register now to assure your seat! See you there.