Keeping children attentive during classroom lessons or creative workshops can be quite the feat; there is nothing worse than hearing a melody of snores and yawns while trying to work through that lesson plan you’ve spent all night conjuring up.
However, there exist a number of tips and tricks that can transform your classroom from an audience of miniature zombies to a room of animated A-star-hungry students without any extra stress.
How can your class feel alive if you don’t act so yourself? Imagine that you are on stage and your students are your audience. Think about your voice and body language. A monotone projection is not going prick up the ears of any half-awake student. So speak with character and carry that voice to the back of the room as well as using hand gestures to elaborate more complex ideas.
Simply keep talking or keep your students speaking at all times. This requires a little bit of multitasking. For example, when writing on the board do not turn your back to the class and stop speaking whilst you think about what you are writing. This may lead to a student thinking he has a window of opportunity to turn and speak to his friend behind him or to get that all-important 1 minute desktop powernap. A good trick to avoid this is to ask a student to come and write the point on the board for you whilst you keep speaking to the rest of the class.
Let Your Students Do The Work
There is no point turning up to lesson with a plan that resembles some kind of award acceptance speech in the sense that it is generic, dull and far too long. Make your students create the lesson. This sounds complicated and unorthodox but it is actually one of the simplest methods. For example, instead of following dyadic conventions of teaching and asking simple back and forth questions, make the students create questions for each other. You could begin the lesson with the basics of a subject and then split the class in two and get them to create questions for each other. You may also want to recap from the day before by requesting that the students present what they have learnt at the beginning of the lesson to the rest of the class.
Never be afraid to turn any subject topic into some form of competition. This can be implemented as individual, pair or group team work. You will be surprised at how easily this can raise the tension and excitement within a classroom even if you haven’t brought any prizes along with you. Even a simple vocabulary exercise can be taught with a competitive edge if you scramble all the words and time the class to work out what each word is and of course, the quickest student is the ‘winner’. You could even create a point system which runs through the entire week and announce the winners on the last day of school.
For many teachers, these methods become automatic when exercised enough so don’t be afraid to step up and just try them out. If they do not go down as well as hoped then just keep practising. These are tried and tested methods and have been proved to save hours of lesson planning and worry about losing students’ attention. So don’t hesitate to re-animate yourself as a teacher and get out there and inject some life into your classroom.
About The Author:
A keen journalist, musician and writer, Sam Hudson is based in West Yorkshire and is currently studying an MA in Writing for Performance and Publication. At university, he started off in journalism by penning articles for the WesternEye before becoming co-editor of the newspaper. Here he is writing on behalf of Streetstyle Surgery, who offer a range of fun, creative & educational workshops for schools and youth groups.