Your class is the one they look forward to. Students want to be there; they want to dig in. Eyes are on you. It feels more like a team than a group of individual students and an instructor. There's a sense of community; it's noisy with the sound of ideas being shared and problems being solved.
This is an engaged classroom. We have three tips for building one.
Go Team Go
Collaborative, social learning is the future. Hop on board.
What we mean to say is that students can learn a lot from one another. Creating collaborative experiences that encourage idea-sharing and team-building form a strong foundation for an engaged classroom.
If you’re a frequent reader of our blog, you know we’ve been writing a lot about one-way and two-way exchanges in the modern classroom. The one-way exchange (the model in which a teacher stands in front of a class, provides information, and expects that information to be recited back) is on the way out.
Classrooms with an emphasis on two-way exchanges are on the rise. This is a model in which information-sharing is more fluid. We see more group problem-solving and discussion between students and instructors. It’s a more collaborative - and engaging - model.
Treat Them Like Adults
Students are more likely to care about your class if they don’t feel like students.
Opportunities to design a learning experience or choose activities impart a valuable message about autonomy, responsibility, and curiosity.
Particularly for junior high and high school students, opportunities to design a learning experience or choose activities impart a valuable message about autonomy, responsibility, and curiosity. (The one thing we say a lot as a team is “how can we give students a voice and a choice in their learning?”)
We could dedicate an entire post to our “voice and choice” mantra. For today, we want to say that treating students like adults can go a long way.
Asking students to adhere to the same expectations they would face in a workplace - get your work done on time, do it well, speak up if you’re having a problem, work together to obtain a better outcome - instills a sense of responsibility. With a little extra freedom to choose how and with whom to complete an assignment comes the expectation that this work will be of higher quality and on time.
It’s an approach that more accurately mirrors workplace environments that students will encounter after graduation. And, fun fact, this can often spark a greater sense of ownership and curiosity. Pretty engaging stuff.
An engaged class isn’t going to stop when the bell rings. Curiosity doesn’t run on a schedule. (Click to tweet this!)
We recommend thinking through opportunities for students to connect outside of class. This includes digital discussion spaces or collaborative group projects that allow conversation and idea-sharing to continue.
Engaged students keep thinking and sharing. Giving them a place for this kind of discussion will build their interest and investment in your course.