Keeping students engaged in the classroom

Would you want to be a student in your own classroom? If you have children, would you want them to be students in your classroom? This morning at the TIES 2016 conference, I went to a presentation by fellow English teacher Pernille Ripp. I was familiar with Pernille since I have wanted to implement her Global Read Aloud, and I was very excited to hear her speak about student engagement.

I really enjoyed listening to Pernille speak about how to keep students engaged. After hearing her speak, it dawned on me that actually I’ve been “about” student engagement this whole time. Pernille spoke about having your students enjoy school and having students enjoy school and be engaged because of their enjoyment, NOT because they are being forced to or are doing so because of possible consequences.

Pernille asked everyone the two questions that I began this blog post with. Would you answer yes to those questions? If not, why not? She really emphasized that, as a teacher, if students aren’t engaged and aren’t enjoying our classes,¬†we should ask them why.

Pernille said that she does the hard work of asking kids what they like, what they don’t, and then contemplating how you could possibly go about changing that.

Overall, she said the deal breaker was making students feel welcome in their classroom. Here were some very simple and quick ideas for more student engagement based off of these ideas.

  • Let students pick where they sit
  • Ask students how you can make your lessons better
  • Pay attention to what we take away (ability to sit where they want, go to the bathroom, listen to music while they work etc) and then try to give them some of that choice back
  • Stop talking so much! Try to only talk 10 minutes per class

These were just some really simple ideas. I already try to let students pick where they sit and try to not talk more than 10 minutes a class. I also let students listen to music. However, there is so much more I can do. I hardly ever ask students what works for them and what doesn’t. I will start at the end of this unit I’m currently on this Friday.