4 Ways to Encourage Student Participation in Class
Let's talk about captivating our students with learning.
Keeping your students engaged in the classroom is a task within itself. With constant distractions ranging from cell phones to disruptive students, it can be a constant struggle to keep your students interested in your lessons. We know you want the best for your class-- and that includes making sure they grasp all the knowledge they can during their time at school.
Balancing fun and learning is not always easy, and these solutions can help make your classroom the home of both.
1. Create a Safe Learning Environment
Students won't engage in a space where they don't feel comfortable, period.
Build a comfortable classroom experience from the get-go by having a discussion with students at the beginning of the school year on how to act during classroom discussions, when others give answers, etc. Let them know you appreciate all ideas, thoughts, and opinions no matter how crazy they are. Give a few examples of this at the beginning of the year by suggesting a few wacky ideas yourself in class discussions.
This will help show students that it's fine to throw out their craziest thoughts and will begin to grow a space where the quietest of students will see that any answer is welcome.
One reason a student fails to participate in class is fear of being wrong. There is no way to fully eliminate this fear, but managing it is possible by encouraging every answer, whether it is correct or incorrect. Having your students come up with a code of conduct that states how to respond to the ideas of others is a great way to get students engaged and have them write their own rules.
2. Get Interactive with Hands-on Activities
When it comes to captivating your students, it doesn't have to get complicated. Hands on activities are the perfect way to engage students by having them interact with the learning material.
These activities can be as easy as playing a game or having them put on a demonstration as groups. Find lessons throughout your week that you can teach in the form of a hands-on activity, and don't feel bad about repeating an activity for different lessons.
3. Teach Collaboration Skills
Students are not expert collaborators. But they can be.
You can't expect students to automatically know how you would like them to participate, how to collaborate well, or how to kindly disagree with other students. Sometimes you need to go back to the basics, and the beginning of the school year is a great opportunity to do just that. A couple of ideas include:
Setting guidelines for participation
Laying guidelines means your expectations are out in the open and decrease any "surprises" for students on your participation desires while also encouraging them to get involved in class discussion.
Teach appropriate disagreement techniques
Teach your students how to respond when they disagree others, such as saying "I liked that (student) did (this), and I wonder if they could have also done (this)".
4. Get your Students Involved in the Learning Process
Creating a space where your students feel like their voice is heard, is key to creating an engaging learning environment. Although certain lessons may need to be taught a certain way, giving occasional decisions to the class, whether picking a game or the day a test is on, can help them feel like they're in charge. This helps your students feel like they have a voice in their own education and gives them a sense of responsibility while encouraging them to speak.
For example, your class is much more likely to participate in a game they choose as opposed to one you have picked for them. Giving them choices improves self-worth and the feeling of importance, which in turn encourages them to speak up. Letting your students have a say in a space where they often don't will create a welcoming atmosphere and will make the entire class feel like they can take their education into their own hands.
It’s difficult to encourage students to participate freely. Classrooms are often spaces where students feel powerless and may not be comfortable speaking up. By creating a space that is welcoming of all opinions and answers, while utilizing different learning techniques and empowering your students, your lessons can help foster a space where students are engaged and empowered by their education.