Teachers know how hard it can be to get all the students involved, especially if the group is big. Students come to the classroom with all kinds of interests, and yet a teacher’s job is to make the daily school subject interesting and involve for all of them. If you are new to teaching, you should be prepared to face this issue with some innovative ideas that could help you activate the students more and get closer to them. Here are five tips that could help you create a truly engaging classroom.
Regularly change seating arrangements
One of the most boring aspects of school for kids is the seating arrangement. Most classrooms have a cognitive paradigm arrangement, which is organized in such a manner that the board and the teacher are turned towards the students, while all of the students are seated in multiple rows facing the teacher. This classroom arrangement calls for ex cathedra lecturing, which students find most boring and disengaging. Often changing seating arrangements can help kids surpass this feeling of monotony and have an element of surprise as they walk into the classroom.
If you’re planning a class that includes group work, cluster the tables and chairs into several smaller circles. The U-shaped classroom is a good idea for debates and discussions. Furthermore, if you want to avoid the ex-cathedra organization when you need to hold lectures, you can create a circle-shaped arrangement so that the kids can still hear and see you, but the atmosphere will feel far less tense.
Design a classroom that feels personal
Seating is only one part of the classroom interior, so you also have to think about how to engage students in using the rest of it. Most classrooms are equipped with standard school materials, but a lot of them are sharable, which makes losing them easy and the responsibility gets shared. You can solve this problem simply by creating name labels that students can put on their belongings and teach them why it’s not okay to take things that belong to somebody else.
Thanks to companies like Prime Labels, you can have your students design their very own, personal name labels. This is also a way to induce a sense of belonging in students by showing them that they have their own stuff and space in the school, which can help them see school as their second home that they enjoy spending time in.
Try the token economy
This behavioral method has been used for many decades now to encourage desirable behavior among students in the classroom. The methodology is quite simple, but it needs to be applied consistently and according to the rules in order to work efficiently. First, you need to target the desirable behavior, which can be in this case engaging in subject-related discussions during class. Every student that engages in such an activity gets a token, and tokens can be anything that you find suitable (cardboard coins, poker ships etc.).
When the agreed sum of tokens is accumulated, the students can get a reward, which also must be carefully chosen so that it motivates students to collect tokens for it. Most students would enjoy a reward such as games, longer break periods or sugar-rush food. Finally, keep in mind that this economy cannot last for long, because eventually children will get bored if they have to work too much for the reward. You can make several smaller rewards for fewer tokens and offer a more diverse choice of rewards so that everyone can find something worth collecting tokens for.
Don’t guess – ask the students
Teachers easily forget that students have their opinions which they spread among themselves, but rarely share with them. This is why teachers are often surprised when parents come complaining due to their children being unsatisfied. Although they might not give you reasonable and straight-forward answer, there is no reason why you shouldn’t ask the students about what they think the class should be like and try to implement at least some of their ideas.
This is a great way to involve children in class-related decision-making and help them see what it feels like to be responsible for the whole class.
Regularly self-evaluating your work with students will also help you rise up as a teacher that cares for the students’ needs. Sometimes it can be really hard to understand what those needs are and how to meet them, but every minute you spend on learning how to improve your classes will help you not only become a better teacher, but also a better version of yourself.