Easy Ways to Keep Students Engaged

Even the most experienced teachers sometimes find it challenging to keep a classroom full of restless students engaged in the learning process. When you’re filling in as a substitute teacher, however, engaging students can often feel like an insurmountable task. It’s no secret that many students view having a substitute teacher as a day off from learning. While keeping students interested and actively learning can seem like a daunting task for substitute teachers, preparation is the key to success. Consider the following tips for engaging students– which can be applied in any classroom– before accepting your next substitute teaching role:

Throw a ball. Unless you’re filling in for a P.E. teacher, this might seem an odd suggestion. In fact, it can be a great tool for engaging students in any classroom. When asking a question, toss a rubber or foam ball to students. This will keep them on their toes and they will look forward to their turn to be called on.

Wander around the classroom. Nothing bores students quicker than a teacher who stands in one place and lectures. Move enthusiastically around the classroom while talking. Students are more likely to pay attention when they know you’ll be making your way by their desk.

Throw in some exercise! Students need energizing brain breaks to stay engaged in learning. Every couple of hours, take a few minutes to lead students in jumping jacks, jogging in place, or even a quick dance party.

Require a ticket to get out the door. For younger students, ask that they write or draw one interesting thing they learned before they’re permitted to go to lunch or recess. Older students can jot down 3 thoughts, ideas, or questions they have about the lesson before heading to their next class– that’s their ticket out of the classroom.

Use popsicle sticks. This can be especially useful for substitute teachers who have not yet learned every students’ name. Have each student write his or her name on a popsicle stick and then place them in a cup. When you need a question answered or would like students to participate in demonstrations or role plays, draw popsicle sticks from the cup. Never knowing when their name will be chosen keeps students on their toes.

Choose a fun word. Before the lesson begins, let students know the fun, catchy word you’ve selected, such as “Wowzers!” or “Yeehaw!” Let students know that when they hear the word, they are to stand up at their desks and clap twice. Then randomly pepper your fun word in throughout the lesson.

For more information about ways that substitute teachers can successfully engage students, please contact us.

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