How do we increase pupil engagement when attention spans appear to be getting shorter every year? Whether you teach elementary or high school, you face the same problems as other educators all over the world. In this day and age, with all of the technology and devices we carry on ourselves at all times, trying to retain pupil engagement for an entire class time is borderline impossible.
Attention spans sort of go hand in hand with the age of the child. Elementary students will have less of an attention span than high school students in general. The Associated Press recently published some interesting information for educators. The stats show that attention spans have dramatically been reduced 50 percent in the last decade. Social media and cell phones have had the finger pointed at them in the last few years. It is a shame to see families hanging out together, whether at a restaurant or somewhere out in public, and all of them are on their phones instead of valuing the time they are spending with one another.
If you are worried about maintaining pupil engagement through an entire lesson, there are certain things you should think about incorporating into the way you teach. As educators, our job is to educate students, and we definitely can’t when they are quickly tuning us out. Use these tips listed below to keep their attention in the classroom.
Any time a teacher stands behind their podium and starts to lecture or read for a long period of time out of a textbook, students mentally check out. You can’t really blame them since we often do this as adults as well. Once someone starts a lecture that you think will take some time, you daydream until they are finished. Students do the same thing. If this is your teaching style, you need to change it for the betterment of your students. Start creating more interactive lessons that will have students paying attention and constantly participating by answering questions. Teachers often get set in their ways, so if you are not used to teaching this way, it may take some time before you master it.
Technology is often blamed for shortening attention spans in all of us. But technology can be a great thing as long as it is used the correct way in education. Use your students’ love of computers and smartboards by integrating it into all of your lessons. You could even have them quit turning in all paperwork and instead get them to submit all of their work through Google Docs for now on. I once taught junior high Literacy and we were instructed by administration not to use any paper for the entire year. Students could not use any paper and the teachers were not allowed to use any paper either. It was a crash course in encompassing technology in everything we did. It was a rocky start when we first began, but by the end of the school year, students and teachers were all on board. If we could do it, you could it as well.
Plan Lessons that Are Not Extremely Long
If you have an hour to teach a subject every day, you don’t want to spend the entire time on just one lesson otherwise you will lose your students. Instead, break them up into mini lessons that are different enough from one another to maintain their focus. Spending 15 minutes on an interactive lesson, 15 minutes on either independent or teacher-led reading, 15 minutes on videos that pertain to the lesson, and 15 minutes of independent writing is a good way to break it up. Hopping from one style of teaching to another will keep them fresh and focused.
Make Teaching Educational and Entertaining
One of my best friends is a high school History teacher. He told me his secret to maintain pupil engagement is to make lesson as entertaining as possible. He said when he taught, he adapted the personality of a stand-up comic. It kept all the students laughing and learning all class long. He said it took him a couple of years to incorporate humor in to all avenues of History, but he eventually figured out a way. While you may not be able to teach in the stand-up comic style, you can figure out some way to keep it entertaining. Any speech or lecture that you have ever heard that involved humor made you sit up and listen because you didn’t want to miss a good laugh. More and more teachers are turning to edutainment in an effort to increase pupil engagement in the classroom.