This is the final addition to my topic of engaging and reengaging students. In the two previous entries, I offered suggestions for capturing and holding your students’ interest. Some of those techniques will also serve to reengage them if you sense that you already lost them. For example, a lively anecdote would be a good break from working with the textbook and could regain students’ interest in the lesson. Also, a frustrated student might have given up during a task which the class performed at a brisk pace. You could then change the pace, making it less intense and invite that student to lead off the next exercise. You could also offer words of support and assist the student as she tackles the first item. Let’s consider three other ways to reengage students:
- Have the students move. Can you change the seating arrangement? Can you do an activity that puts students on their feet? New partners and/ or some physical movement can easily refresh a lesson.
- Offer them a choice of some kind. Don’t make all the choices yourself. Have students take some responsibility for the direction or format of the lesson. This puts pressure on them to focus so that the lesson can move forward. They’ll also feel more invested in the lesson, having had a say in its planning. Maybe you want them to practice using new vocabulary, for example. Why not assign two different tasks and let them choose which one they want to do? The other could always be done for homework.
- Vary your speaking style. This is a classic technique for classroom management, and classics never go out of style. Suddenly adopting a low conspiratorial tone can be more effective than raising the roof with a boisterous voice.
- Use information that you know about the students to illustrate your points. You already covered the use of the future progressive in statements. Now you need to present and practice forming questions. On the board, write examples that are based on the students who need a reminder to be on task. What will you be doing tonight at 8:00? Will Paula be cooking dinner for her children? Will Lee be playing video games with his roommate? Etc. Hearing their names and seeing model statements about themselves should catch and hold their attention.