Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Engaging Secondary School Students

beginning I was recently invited to join a World Class Teachers Top Tips competition from The Bloggers Lounge. The prompt is:

“Together with World Class Teachers – a supply teaching agency who specialise in placing teachers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, America and the UK into day-to-day and long-term teaching positions throughout London – we’re offering you the chance to win a World Class Teachers’ T-shirt PLUS one of two fantastic prizes*:

-          A Champagne London Eye experience for two (*UK Winners Only)


-          A $50 Amazon gift voucher!

Plus, the lucky winner will be featured on the World Class Teachers’ blog AND the Bloggers’ Lounge!

We want you to write a blog post on your top 5 tips for keeping kids engaged in the classroom, via one of two categories of entry:

-          Top tips for keeping primary school children engaged

-          Top tips for keeping secondary school children engaged

Tips can be as creative or unusual as you like, but they must be tried and tested!”

I decided I wanted to enter and write about Top tips for keeping secondary school children engaged. I think this is an important topic because by the time students get to secondary school, many are disillusioned, bored, or frustrated with the system or their own lack of progress. I plan on listing some tips to help engage these students but the list is not in any order of importance. Many times one strategy will work for one student and not for another so I don’t believe that there is just one true tried method that works for all students. Since students have individual needs, their motivation will be very different from each other. In the classroom, I would try one thing and if that didn’t work, I would try another and as long as I didn’t give up, I truly believe that something will work to help the students find learning meaningful and relevant.

1. Call home often (at least every other week) and brag about the good things the student does. Many times students have fallen into the habit of acting bad in order to get attention. I try to break the cycle of bad behavior and replace it with trying to get attention by acting appropriately.

2. Survey the students to find out what way they learn best. Some students are visual learners and other may be auditory or tactile-kinesthetic. Students learn better if they are taught according to their learning style instead of the teacher’s learning style.

3. Offer several assessment options for students to show they have mastered the skills taught.

4. Develop a project and have the students work towards a final goal. Students can work in groups to figure out a way to reach the final goal. If students have something vested in the assignment, they are more engaged in the lesson.

5. Find out what topics students are interested in learning about. Many times academic skills can be incorporated into these topics. If the students are interested in the topic, they are more engaged in learning.

6. Find out what hobbies/interests that the student likes outside of the classroom. Learn a little bit about this in order to have a meaningful conversation with the student. Ask the student questions about this. Show the student that you care. If the student sees you care, not just about the classwork but about the student as a person, the student will work harder for you.

7. Go to extracurricular activities that students are involved in. This shows the students that you care and are willing to learn more about them as people and not just students.

8. Make sure lessons are meaningful and relevant. Tie the lesson to something in real life where students will use the skill. Invite speakers (in person or on Skype) who use the skill on the job.

9. If a student is having a behavior problem, include the student in coming up with a solution. Develop a plan to improve behavior but include the input from the student.

10. Don’t take misbehavior personally. Look for the function of the behavior and do not see it as a personal affront. If a student misbehaves one day, make sure the next day is a new beginning. Do not hold grudges and make sure the student understands that they have a fresh new start.

I have done all of these things with my high school students over the years and had a lot of success by doing them. My students responded well to these strategies and I’m glad that I never gave up on them.

Image: 'New Beginning'
Found on flickrcc.net

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