5 classroom management tips for engaging students in learning

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Knowing how to manage your class and generate engagement can be difficult as a teacher. Fortunately, there are many simple approaches to stimulate your pupils’ interest in a topic and ensure they behave well.

1) Plan your lessons thoroughly

The first step towards successful classroom management and engaging lessons is simple – make sure that you plan your lesson thoroughly.

Lesson planning is vital to ensure that you are fully prepared for each class and ready to make the most of your chance to engage your pupils on the topic at hand.

The planning you do before the lesson is only half of the equation. Make sure that after class you take the time to study your lesson plan again and note down what worked and what didn’t.

Especially if you are teaching that particular lesson for the first time, marking down the pros and cons of the lesson will give you an insight into how to develop as a teacher. The second time you teach it you will be better prepared and ready to deliver an even more engaging class.

2) Use your classroom layout to boost engagement

The classic layout – all desks arranged in rows facing the teacher, who stands or sits at the front of the classroom and teaches using the board – is not always the one most suited to the lesson in question.

If you are teaching a class that is primarily based around using the whiteboard, in a lecture-style structure, by all means use the traditional layout. This is what it’s designed for – pupils facing front will be less inclined to talk and everyone will be able to have a good view of the board.

However, if you’ve incorporated a debate into your lesson, it is better to arrange the desks in a circular shape so that your students can see one another, facilitating discussion in a non-hierarchical way. This can be adapted by making use of a semicircular layout so that all pupils can converse easily and have a view of the board as well.

If your pupils are working in groups, push two or more tables together in clusters so that each group can work facing one another but separate from the rest of the class (and distraction!)

3) Involve students in the rulemaking process

Students will be more committed to a set of rules when they feel that they have contributed to them, rather than simply being told what they can or can’t do.

At the start of the year, term, or whenever you begin teaching a class, open up a discussion about what sort of behaviour they think is acceptable in lessons. Mention talking, phone usage and noise levels during work time.

Although it can be tempting to avoid this in the fear that your pupils will request completely unreasonable rules, this is rarely the case and talking the matter over with them as though they are adults will create mutual respect and understanding of the rules.

4) Make your lessons engaging

Interested pupils won’t misbehave or disrupt your class. Capture your students’ interest at the very start of the lesson by telling them their lesson agenda – the activities they’ll be doing,  how they’ll be working and anything else you think they’ll be engaged by.

One good way to do this is to begin your lesson with the opener ‘During this lesson you’ll learn about…’ followed by a list of statements that will pique your pupils’ interest. If your statements are sufficiently interesting, your students will listen expectantly.

Make sure that you do this with conviction. If you don’t seem fascinated by what you’re saying and excited by what is to come, they won’t be.

5) Use positive reinforcement outside the classroom

Positive reinforcement is one of the keys to good pupil behaviour and one of the best ways to use this outside the context of a lesson is to get in touch with your pupils’ parents to praise good behaviour.

This means that the positivity is twofold – they will no doubt receive praise from their parents as well as you. It also increases the child’s desire to be in your lessons, earning more positive feedback.

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