One of a teacher’s eternal challenges is keeping students--hey! Put down that phone! We’re writing a blog here.
As we were saying, one tough challenge in school is making sure everyone in class--excuse you? Who’s playing that music? And is someone talking in the back corner?
Thank you. Now, to the point we were making, keeping students engaged and paying attention to what’s being taught in class is a constant struggle for teachers who have to contend with everything from smartphones and tablets to the latest celebrity or sports gossip, not to mention those students deep in the throes of college planning and academic field trips. Even the most well-behaved and focused students can have days where it’s hard to connect with a lesson plan or feel the topic is relevant and interesting enough to pay attention to.
That’s why instructors here at Lutheran High School invest heavily in finding fun, creative, and unique activities to get and keep students engaged in their work. There are four main strategies our teachers employ in this endeavor.
1. Be Proactive About Engagement Planning
Relying on last year’s curriculum or the same-old-same-old lesson plan may work for a time, especially since a teacher may have a new class each year, but our teachers take the time to constantly refine their approaches to the material. We don’t let ourselves be complacent about what we’re teaching, even if we’ve been conveying the same information for decades. There are always new and exciting ways to get a lesson across, and we employ new technologies, new illustrations, new class activities, and new testing methodologies all the time to find the best fit for a whole class or a specific student.
2. Give Students Control Over Their Interactions
Each student is going to have unique ways they learn best, and they’re all going to have different academic goals, study scopes, learning paces, and ways they express themselves in a classroom. So the more students can be actively engaged in their learning, the better. Our teachers make an effort to encourage participation and let even the quietest students know their involvement with class activities is expected, even in small doses. This gives them the chance to jump in on discussions, contribute to activities, and pursue the topics that they’re really passionate about.
“I personally believe that we have an important role in helping students learn to manage devices instead of allowing devices to manage them, so I embrace their presence and use in the class. Each of my upper-level students has put together a deep work strategy for making the most of their work time and has made intentional decisions about device usage for work.”
- Mr. Black
3. Embrace Unique Learning Styles
No two students are the same, and each one is going to have some variations in how they best learn and connect with the material. We believe this comes from our unique gifting from God, and the special talents that all students can nurture in service for the Kingdom.
Fortunately, variety is a key element of our classroom environments, and many teachers intentionally shake up their instruction routines to accommodate the unique learning styles present in their lineup. This can include different class time segments, each focused on a unique activity or teaching format, as well as occasional breaks and class discussions. Sometimes our students are even encouraged to take short walks to help them digest the material they’ve absorbed!
4. Think Outside of the Curriculum
All of our faculty understand that learning neither begins nor ends in the classroom. It is a constant process that we’re here to facilitate. We encourage students to question what they’re taught and reinforce that they always have the freedom and ability to find the answers out for themselves. When picking projects, whether for science experiments, literature reviews, or artistic creations, we also help students discover what they’re truly passionate about. What are the topics or people or activities they can be involved with at school that will drive their sense of purpose and growth outside of the classroom? When students really care about what they’re learning and how it can impact their lives, they’re far more likely to stay engaged in class.
In the end, our instructors seek a balance of structure and organization that students can rely on while providing the flexibility and creative freedom that motivates and engages. Through diverse lesson planning and proactive collaboration with the students themselves, LHS continues to foster generations of engaged and eager students who are equipped for lifelong learning and growth.