By Lani Aquino
When a spark of interest and engagement is ignited, a student’s initiative and potential for learning and growth can be unstoppable. Teachers invest a lot of time and energy ensuring that those flames continually burn, but sometimes the expansive to-do list can cause all stakeholders to lose sight of ways to maintain this excitement for learning. By taking a look at strategies that feed the flame of engagement and finding ways to integrate them into the day-to-day learning environment, the spotlight on learning can continue to shine brightly.
Keep Students Moving
Learning shouldn’t be a sedentary activity. By keeping the body in motion, the mind is awakened to become more actively engaged. This may look different in every classroom and/or at every level. Movement can be achieved by incorporating seating options and/or accessories that give students opportunities to stand, sit, bounce, sway, etc. Movement breaks can be interspersed to refresh and revive. Stations and learning centers also offer a more mobile and movement-friendly environment that can contribute to an increase in engagement.
Keep Students Curious
Effective learners are engaged learners. One of the main characteristics found in effective learners is their propulsion to be inquisitive. In a learning environment where questions are encouraged and answers are pursued by students rather than given by teachers, an excitement for learning can always be present. Project-based learning definitely fits the bill for instilling this curious nature in students. The overall tone of the learning environment is crucial to keeping curiosity at the forefront, and if students are continually encouraged to explore their curious natures, their love of learning will be less likely to wane.
Keep Learning Active
Long lectures, lengthy worksheets, and the sound of shhhhh on repeat all make for a very engaging learning environment, right? While all of these may have served a purpose at one time, their appearances within the classroom framework should be few and far between (or nonexistent) to instill a sense of excitement about learning. When students are engaged in hands-on activities and collaborative learning, they are able to become active members in their learning pursuits rather than bystanders trying to capture bits of knowledge as they are presented in non-interactive formats. It’s vital to take students off of the sidelines and let them become actively engaged on the educational playing field.
Keep Feedback Prevalent
If the goal is to keep students excited about learning, they need to find intrinsic motivators that bolster this energy. The consistent offering of descriptive feedback allows students to find such a motivator as they are able to ingrain an understanding of the fruits of their scholarly labors and formulate a game plan for continual growth. In a feedback-rich learning environment, students can find a purpose-driven motivation to keep progressing toward mastery and personal successes. When learning and achieving personal milestones become the rewards, an excitement to reach toward these achievements can spur an intrinsic energy that keeps students engaged.
In order to foster the flame of learning, students need to enter an environment that always holds an air of excitement about educational pursuits. When teachers are purposeful about planning activities that increase engagement and an investment has been made in developing and maintaining relationships that encourage inquiry and value feedback, the path of learning is illuminated. By keeping these 4 strategies in mind, teachers can keep an excitement about learning alive.
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