A key factor in R.E.A.L. learning is to capture the interest, creativity, and imagination of students. Through engagement, students are able to fully immerse themselves in their learning and will be drawn into the task assigned. Boredom leads to behavioural problems and lack luster learning. Engagement allows students to journey into new realms of learning where they are the leaders, asking questions, and discovering answers.
When I was in my early years of teaching I recall being told “You should never be working harder than your students”. I forget who imparted such wisdom, but it has been transformative. My job was to simply facilitate learning – ask a few guiding questions here, provide the appropriate tools there, and redirect focus when necessary. The students were tasked to do the rest; the problem-solving, working through the errors, and making the discoveries. I was no longer the one who stood at the forefront, transmitting information for them to absorb. I was now in the background, or at most, by their side, simply assisting when needed.
When the teacher takes a backseat (resisting the urge to become a backseat driver), students are given the opportunity to lead. When the student is the leader, they are more engaged. A more engaged student reaps the benefits of a deeper understanding of the content of material you are leading them to discover. When given the opportunity, I have seen students rise to the occasion and take ownership over their learning. Empowering our students with the opportunity to direct their own learning leads to an excitement and anticipation of what is to come
How do we create an engaging learning experience?
1) Make what you are teaching relevant to your students. Click here to read about making learning relevant.
2) Empower your students to take the lead. Provide them with the background knowledge necessary, pose a thought provoking question, allow time and tools for students to work with to find the answers. Here is one example of how I implemented this strategy within my own classroom.
It will be necessary to create a culture of learning independence prior to letting your students fully take the lead. We will explore this topic in a later post.
3) Use multiple learning opportunities for students to explore – every child is a unique learner. Allowing them to explore a concept through multiple platforms, deepens their understanding and makes learning accessible to all.
4) Create an engaging learning environment. This topic is explored in greater depth in Part 2 of this post.
5) Reflect. Take time to note what activities captured your students’ attention the longest, which they were able to make the most discoveries with, what learning opportunities allowed for future inquiries and further enrichment? Taking time to reflect will allow us to refine our teaching strategies to create even more engaging learning opportunities.
Creating engaging learning opportunities is a skill that takes practice. At first, it may feel like more work as you observe your students, reflect on the experience, and refine your lessons. However, when you experience the rich learning that comes from an engaged student or class, you will discover it is a skill worth investing in.