SIOP Feature #25: Engage Students 90% - 100% of the time

Kids in class doing an activity

Does that sound like a tall order?  Engaging students for the entire class?  Well, consider what we have if we don't have engaged students:  nothing.  Student engagement is paramount to learning and the first ingredient as it signifies desire, a willingness to learn.  Fortunately, SIOP provides a ton of clues as to how we can gain and maintain student engagement in our classrooms.

Student engagement is a critical ingredient to learning and teaching.  If students are not engaged, how can they willingly learn anything?  Student engagement must be the first, second, third, and final thing that goes through our minds as educators.  If students aren't engaged, we need to ask ourselves why and try and determine the best course of action.  Here are three things you can do to re-engage a disengaged classroom of students:

  1. Mix-n-Mingle Time:  Get students up and moving.  If students aren't engaged, ask them to stand, find a friend, and talk about two things:  (1) what they were day dreaming about (2) what their big take away from the lecture was.  Any time we can get students up and moving, we get the blood flowing, we change the scenery a bit, and we re-engage them.
  2. Turn-n-Talk Time:  Get students to speak to other students.  When you sense lack of engagement, try getting the students to do a pair share.  Sharing something with a partner has the effect of getting students to engage again in their own learning process.  Students learn more from one another than they do their peers; the effective teacher is the one who knows that and whose teaching reflects that. ​
  3. Student Do Time:  Get students to do the work.  When we do more work than we should, students disengage as they take a passive role to their own learning.  

The bottom line is this:  why do for the students what they can do for themselves?  The more of the work that we give the learner, the more engaged and the more vested they become in their own learning. If students aren't engaged, the chances are you are doing all of the work.  If you notice that students are not engaged, ask yourself why. 

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"There's no time for me to get my students engaged like that."

Sometimes teachers may think that engaging students takes up valuable time.  The fact of the matter is in addition to having students leave your classroom with smiles on their faces (and probably looking forward to going back), engaging students saves time. 

  • Engaged students pay better attention.  
  • Engaged students do more with less prodding.
  • Engaged students hold themselves accountable.

Besides, you might enjoy your day a bit more too!  Teaching an engaged group of students is such a treat.    The more engaged they are, the quicker things will go because they will be working with me.

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