Each student is different. As a teacher, you will encounter all sorts of fruits in the basket—the energetic one, the smarty-pants, and the closed-off one. You will never run out of personality types. However, more often than not, the challenge is to deal with the deafening silence when no one is participating in classroom discussions.
Classroom participation is a highly important aspect of school learning. If only a few students raise their hands and engage in discussions, the class loses the opportunity to learn from each other. Participation also improves critical thinking and social skills of students.
Here are five ways to encourage your students to participate in class:
1. Peer Activities
Let your students interact and learn from each other through peer activities like games, debates, reports, and others.
Group them randomly so that no one will feel left out if they are not a part of a circle. Doing this will provide an opportunity for each student to come up with an input individually and then later synthesize everything together to produce their final output. Having them discuss their work among themselves will make them feel independent while still having a sense of cooperation and working together.
2. Listen And Respond
Be aware of how you, as the teacher and the grown-up in the class, respond to your students. You are the one who first creates the atmosphere within the class.
Practice effective verbal and non-verbal cues. Encourage; don’t intimidate. Making eye contact is vital when speaking with students to let them know that you are engaging with them. Knowing that you are listening to them, they will have the courage them to express their thoughts.
As much as possible, do not interrupt when a student is speaking. Even if his/her answer is off the track, let him/her finish speaking. Do not bluntly dismiss a wrong answer. Use questioning or redirection, which will eventually point to the correct answer.
3. Study Buddy
Aside from group activities, assigning a study buddy at the beginning of the class will help students adjust and make friends easily. Moreover, students speak more with their friends, so having a buddy whom they can talk to and who can evaluate them can help encourage participation in class.
4. Give Rewards
Giving rewards doesn’t always mean giving material gifts to the students; sometimes, a simple “Well done!” could go a long way. Giving praises and words of encouragement to students will let them feel that participating and speaking out are worth it.
5. Make The Classroom Setup Engaging
This tip might already be a given, but make sure to memorize the names of your students. Ask them if they have a nickname in mind that they want you to call them. Referencing them by their names helps build a connection between you and them.
Creating an environment where students can speak their minds, work with other people, and explore each lesson will help improve their interest and engagement. Most children have a short attention span. Knowing this, you have to create an atmosphere that will be challenging for them.
The right amount of effort will get students to participate in class. Remember that they rely on you, so every action that you do inside the classroom will affect the students. Knowing the right strategy in dealing with your students will, later on, result in active participation and fruitful discussions.