Grrrrrrrr…Dhk! Grrrrrrrrr…Dhk! What happened? Why is the car not starting? I’ll tell you why. Nobody’s driven it in a week.
Our students are pretty much like the car and their brains, the engines. They don’t kick start unless we make them use their engine (brains) frequently… more frequently than this car that didn’t start. That is why we say student engagement is crucial to a learner’s development. It keeps their engines active.
Here’s why it is important for every teacher to put student engagement on top of their priority list.
Mr S, an English teacher, loves group activities. More often than not, he divides his class into groups of five and lets them discuss the topic at hand. A Chekov’s one act play or a sonnet by Shakespeare, they discuss the authors’ backgrounds to their upbringing to issues that prevailed in the society when the piece was written. While the learners do that, Mr S wanders around and observes each learner, meticulously making notes.
The Benefit- Collaboration. Learners get to interact with each other and develop the much-needed skill of collaboration. They learn to respect each others’ thoughts, opinions and listen to each other's ideas. Student engagement can, without a doubt, promote social learning which is quite impactful and productive.
Ms D is a science teacher. Her students have standing instructions from her. Before they begin a new topic, they are supposed to share a fun fact about that topic. Before they started the chapter on space, her learners came up with facts that even she hadn’t heard before! Students look forward to her class because it is always so much fun!
The Benefit- Creative thinking. Learners become inquisitive. Engaging them makes them curious, ready to learn and absorb whatever you teach them. They learn to think creatively and come up with all kinds of innovative and fresh ideas that can sometimes be beyond our expectations.
Ms K, our mathematics teacher, is no less. She loves asking questions. Sometimes easy, sometimes difficult, some are twisted and some are simply trick questions (don’t tell her learners, sometimes she gives them problems that cannot be solved). Every learner has to answer at least one question. If they can’t, she changes the question for them but they must answer!
The Benefit- Critical thinking. Answering questions makes learners think hard. They explore different ways of solving problems. They learn logic and reasoning. They participate actively in the process of learning and take charge of their own learning.
Mr M is a history teacher. He asks his learners to read a chapter at home before teaching it in the classroom. He, then, asks each learner to narrate a story on the topic. Some learners narrate stories about the characters in the chapter, the others about the incidents. Who knew learning history could be so much fun!
The Benefit- Communication skills. By engaging in this way, learners become eloquent communicators. They learn how to put their point across clearly and crisply. They develop the ability to logically sequence their thoughts into carefully selected words.
And the car? If the engine is kept functioning, it will never seize.
So make it a point, my friend, to put student engagement on top of your priority list.
If you want to dive deeper into this area of teaching and learning, please feel free to check out our course on Lesson Planning.