Engaging students in the classroom is one of the most difficult tasks for any educator. There's no one-size-fits-all solution for getting kids engaged in their work and their education; solutions need to be case-specific and tailored to your school, your classroom, and your students. Above all, getting students engaged requires time and effort. There's no short-term quick fix that will magically change the dynamic in the classroom, but if you're willing to put in the work, you can see changes occur over time. Fortunately, it's the beginning of the school year, so there's still plenty of time to put some of these practices into action.

These tips for getting students more engaged in their education are based on an article that laid out the four areas that determine your level of job satisfaction and productivity. While they were identified with the professional world in mind, they can also be applied to the life of a student. The article, “Why You Hate Work” was written by Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath, and classified these four areas that contribute to your satisfaction and productivity at work:

  • Feeling good and recharged physically.
  • Feeling like an appreciated and valued contributor.
  • Having a clear focus and a say in prioritizing.
  • Seeing a higher purpose in the work.

So how can these principles be applied to student engagement?

Feeling Recharged

Students, especially younger ones, have short attention spans. If you go for too long without a break, any information you try to impart will be lost on them. So take short breaks throughout the day to allow students to recharge their batteries. Let them walk around, jump, stretch, anything to get the blood moving and give their brains a rest for a few minutes.

Feeling Appreciated

Everyone, including students, likes to feel appreciated and like their contributions are valued. Complimenting your students on good behavior, good performance, good answers, and good actions goes a long way, and shows that you recognize the contributions students are making in the classroom.

Having a Say

This is one area in which many students would say they have no ownership. Of course the teacher is the authority in the classroom, but giving a little of this authority to the students gets them more engaged by giving them room for choice. Some little things you can do include giving them a choice of partners for assignments, which assignment to do next, or choice over an activity to start or end the school day.

Having a Higher Purpose

It can be hard for students to understand how Algebra, for example, is relevant to their lives. Try to make things relevant for students by showing them how they might use the skills they're learning now in the real world as adults. Emphasizing the adult aspect of it can really help engage kids, as many of them can't wait to grow up. Make sure they know that they can put all of these skills to good use!

For more information, check out: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/helping-students-find-purpose-and-appreciation-school-maurice-elias