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How to Strengthen Student Engagement

Engaging students is a constant battle that many of us face in the classroom. How do we keep our students engaged in our lessons? The topic of engagement can be discussed from many angles. I could address the symptoms of disengagement—which would include suggestions like incorporating more brain breaks in your classroom, but, with this post, I would like to address the cause of disengagement for some of our students.

Engaging students can often be linked to instruction, so as I write this week’s Coach’s Corner blog, I challenge you to first reflect on your instruction. I am listing five things that I reflect on when I recognize that my students are no longer engaged.

1. Planning. How tight is my planning? Students can always see the holes in your instruction. I have to ask myself how well did I plan my current unit. Did I begin with the end in mind? Did I select the appropriate standards and the appropriate number of standards? Did I deconstruct my standards? Did I scaffold appropriately? Planning is a huge part of student engagement. Oftentimes, we lose students because our lessons haven’t been scaffolded properly.

2. Instruction. I may have written the best curriculum map every seen by an administrator, but my delivery may not be strong. Have I used the “I do, we do, you do” method? Do my students understand the content and what is expected of them? Have I spent too much time delivering instruction, and too little time practicing skills? Strong instruction eliminates confusion and restlessness, resulting in improved student engagement.

3. Motivation. Have I created an environment in which students are motivated to do their best and work their hardest? Do I provide immediate constructive feedback to students when then complete assignments? Did I create an environment in which my students feel comfortable with the discomfort of struggling? Student motivation is directly linked to providing immediate feedback and creating environments in which students feel safe taking academic risks.

4. Am I teaching the way they learn or the way I learn. It is always suggested that you have your students take a learning styles quiz. Although you may not be able to incorporate every style into every lesson, simply knowing that half of your class is auditory and half of your class is tactile can help you navigate your teaching and better engage students during lessons.

5. MTSS (Multi-tiered Systems of Support). Now this would not be an education blog without an acronym here or there! Multi-tiered systems of support, MTSS, is a three tiered support system that enables educators to pinpoint what level or type of support students need. Some students may need to have a more rigorous text, while some students may need support with a skill that was introduced during a previous unit. MTSS is great because it can be done within your classroom, within departments, or whole school. You can also using data collection methods that you consistently use in class such as class participation charts and formative or summative assessments to place students into tiers so that you can best support each student. Remember, it is easier to engage students when you meet them where they are and push them from there.

Student engagement involves many methods, however, by taking a minute to reflect on the five that have been presented above, you are already one step closer to building stronger student engagement!

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