Helping Teachers Make a Difference in the Lives of Their Students

How Many Say Yes – Student Engagement Strategy #1

As a new teacher, you are going to be under a microscope as you demonstrate your abilities to your administrators who are evaluating you. This is just part of the job, any job really. Those first years, you have to prove to your principal that hiring you was a good idea.

As I’ve told teachers before, if you want to impress your principal enough to keep you on as a teacher, you need to learn how to keep your students engaged.

Right now, student engagement is something that the educational community is focusing on a lot, and those teachers who can master the skill of student engagement are looked upon as top performers. Other benefits come along with being able to keep your students engaged in a lesson like fewer behavior issues and greater student success.

Unfortunately, keeping students engaged during the entire lesson can be difficult, especially if you have to do a lot of direct instruction.

There will be days, of course, when you have an activity that will involve the entire class, keeping them completely engaged and learning, but any experienced teacher will tell you that those days are not the norm.

These amazing lessons are reserved, and I know you know this, for observation days – days when your administrator has told you that he/she is coming in for a formal evaluation.

Most days, however, a teacher is up in front of the class – teaching, and that’s OK.

Students are in their seats, listening as the teacher delivers a lesson, whether it’s a lecture or a slide show or some kind of demonstration.

This is where strategies to keep the students engaged can be helpful. I’ve seen many teachers who will spend the entire period teaching from the front of the class and assuming that every student is listening and learning. The reality is that no matter how interesting the lesson is, some students will just disengage and stop listening unless the teacher has ways to pull them back into the lesson.

It is especially difficult to keep the students engaged when the material you are trying to teach is essential, but not that interesting.

How do you make the not-so-exciting concepts interesting enough for all your students to be not only listening, but engaged in the lesson?

I’m glad you asked.

As I taught American History, I often found myself trying to teach the principles of democracy to a class full of eighth graders, and struggling to keep them awake.

Over the years, I learned a few strategies that I would like to share in the next few posts. I hope they will be helpful.

Engagement Strategy #1:

How Many Say Yes?

While delivering your lesson, ask a question where there is a right or wrong answer. For example, “How many say that a Supreme Court Judge’s term is for life? Raise your hand if you say yes. Raise your hand if you say no. Raise your hand if you’re not sure, but don’t want to be wrong.”

That’s when you have them. You can spend the next few seconds giving them essential information before telling them the answer.

When you finally say, “A Supreme Court Judge’s term is…for life.” The side that guessed correctly will cheer, and the other side will have learned the answer to the question on the test.

You can use this for any yes/no, right/wrong question.

You can also ask this questions as many times as you want during your lesson.

When you notice some of the students drifting off, pull out your How Many Say Yes question.

I would encourage you to give it a try. Let me know if you get the same results that I did.

Again, as I stated earlier, if you can keep your students engaged, you will never worry about losing your job.

I’ll have another engagement strategy soon. If this was helpful, please feel free to send out a tweet or add it to your FB wall.

Don’t forget to sign up for my email newsletter to get updated when I add a new post.

Until next time,

Here’s to your Success In The Classroom!

Thanks,

Sam

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