As we kick off a new season, it is important to spend some time thinking about ways that to keep your students engaged and excited to come back week after week. Student engagement is very important for success in our classrooms and this is something that is often overlooked.
As teachers, we tend to be focused on following a syllabus and checking skills off a list instead of making sure our students are engaged. If our students are not
engaged, it will not matter how many skills we plan to teach them because they
will not stick around.
I am going to share 6 ways you can keep them engaged and excited to come to
your class week after week. I hope that you can take the ideas and translate them
into something that will work in your classroom.
1. Greetings - Spend time planning your greeting for your classes. There are many ways you can change this up to be something your students look forward to. It can be a fist bump, heel bump, a special handshake, a dance move, a question of the day, or even sharing a fun fact each day. There are hundreds of other ideas that you can use to greet your students as they enter your room. For little ones, it is best to be consistent with them. They thrive on routine. As they get older, it is great to change it up and keep it fun. I personally like to have one part the same and then change up parts each week to keep them on their toes. (I have shared a graphic of some fun ways to greet and say farewell after class)
2. Plan for short attention spans - To keep students engaged, plan your class with several short activities and keep them moving. Don’t spend too much time on any one part of class. This will also aid you in teaching and reinforcing the lesson you are teaching, while keeping their minds moving.
3. Teach by using multiple learning styles - To keep students engaged, you need to connect the dots. A great way to do this is to use multiple learning styles as you teach. As we know, each student has their own way of learning and unique strengths and weaknesses. In order to keep them engaged and learning, we need to include a variety in our teaching. The three most popular learning styles are auditory, visual, and kinesthetic, so be sure to always include at least these three ways when you are teaching. It is a game changer when you know a student’s learning style because you can keep them engaged and their progress skyrockets.
4. Turn lessons into GAMES - Students are most engaged when they are having fun. Any time you can turn a lesson into a game you will win them over. Everyone loves games and kids love little prizes. At our studio we have stickers, buttons, High Five cards, and other goodies that we use to reward students and it is a big hit. They light up when any time there is a game or a contest.
5. Make a Connection with Each Child - At my studio, I say every child every time to my team on a daily basis. We have a mission to connect with every child every time they walk in our doors. When children feel connected, they are more engaged. Help them all feel seen, heard and valued and they will be engaged and stay in your classes for years to come.
6. Give them Choices - Generation Z loves to have choices, they want to collaborate. I love to ask the students specific questions to keep them engaged and give them choices. Get creative and think of ways that you can use their input to keep them engaged. I have recently asked about their favorite artists and put together specific playlists. I asked my advanced tap students which song we should use for their group dance between three different choices. I also asked their opinion on costumes. When they have a voice in a decision, they are much more engaged in the process.
As you are planning your classes this season, stop and take a few moments to think about how you can keep your students engaged. You can take these 6 ideas and make a plan to incorporate each one over the next month in your classes and see if you notice a difference in your students' level of engagement.
If you are already doing these six things, stop and ask yourself “How can I do them
better?” “What can I do to improve one of these areas?” And always remember,
there is always room for improvement.
Pam Simpson is the founder, president, and driving force behind Forte Arts Center, which was established in Morris, Illinois in 1993. In addition to building her business from a small, one room studio to a large, multi-location organization that offers dance, tumbling and cheer programs as well as private music lessons, Pam is a leading force in the realm of small business ownership in the dance and tumbling industries as she travels all over the country speaking to and educating for large organizations such as Rhee Gold Company, Dance Teacher Summit, and More Than Just Great Dancing. When not working on her businesses, Pam enjoys spending time with her family and visiting her daughter, who is a performer at Walt Disney World.