The past few months have been disruptive to education in ways that teachers, parents and children have never experienced before. In many countries, schools shut their doors entirely for many weeks and the onus was put on parents to keep their children motivated to continue learning.
Now schools are gradually being reopened again to specific year groups. Those who are back in the classroom are having to observe social distancing and spend their days within learning “bubbles”. The end of the summer term and the beginning of the autumn term are always exciting and distracting times for children and all the upheaval may mean that students are finding it harder to concentrate than usual.
Here are 4 ways to guarantee that your class stay engaged:
Keep them active - For at least 10 minutes of every hour make sure that your students put down their pens and get their heart-rates up. Lead a group stretching exercise, introduce sprinting on the spot or use high-intensity movements such as jumping jacks. Studies have shown that including exercise in classroom learning boosts grades and encourages good behaviour.
Reward good work consistently - Establish a system of fair recognition for students who perform well so that they know that their work is being recognised. This will also establish an atmosphere of friendly competition among classmates, which will spur the whole group on. Remember not just to reward the very best attainment, but also to prize sustained improvement and notable effort.
Set challenges - Set your students a relevant puzzle to solve. You can either set this at the beginning of a lesson and return to it at the end, or set it just before dismissing a class and give the answer at the beginning of the next in order to get your students anticipating your classes! Be careful to pitch this correctly, so that it is within reach for your students but is also a satisfying brain-teaser.
Incorporate creative activities - The school desk doesn’t have to be a place for tests, essays and books alone - it can also be an easel! Children should have time each day to flex their creative muscles as well as the purely intellectual ones. Encourage them to design posters around the topic you are teaching, get them to compose their own poem or song, or even direct a theatrical scene to illustrate a moment in history.