As winter transitions to spring in Michigan, students might be losing motivation or struggling to stay focused with the promise of warmer weather and sunshine just outside the classroom window. Teachers might feel stuck in an instructional rut, counting down the days until spring break. How do we beat the blahs? Below are four ideas that can benefit teachers and students.
- Get students up and moving – Teachers can be armed with multiple strategies to get their students up and moving around their classroom. Strategies like Carousel Quotes and Chalk Talks can help keep the energy up and help kinesthetic learners reach their potentials.
- Increase the voices of the students into the room – Teachers can allow time for students to work with their peers in a way that encourages participation from everyone. Which One Doesn’t Belong and other “Intentional Talk” strategies are useful to facilitate dialogue and discussion among students.
- Plan and rehearse instruction in advance – Engaging lessons often involve activities with multiple steps so descriptive teacher instructions are critical to success and counteracting chaos. Students benefit from details outlining what to do, how to do it, and why they are doing it. Strategies like Visual Paragraphing and What-Why-How support productive activities and structure for teachers and students.
- Get comfortable with pausing – This may sound counterintuitive, yet is critical to the learning process. In order to increase student engagement, teachers must get comfortable with intentional pauses so students can process information and reflect on their learning. By pausing, teachers are holding students accountable to participate, allowing time to organize their thinking, and presuming positive intentions that students have thoughts or questions that will add value to the classroom.
This time of year, before state testing begins, is a critical stretch for teachers and students. Keeping students active and engaged takes time and effort, yet pays great dividends.
The strategies and ideas listed above (and many more!) will be covered at our Student Engagement Strategies workshop on Thursday, March 9th in Mt. Pleasant. Click here for more details and to register!
-by Jillian Davidson and Blake Pratt