If you’re a school teacher, online tutor, or even a parent homeschooling their child, keeping up student engagement to boost motivation through the lessons can be a rewarding experience for both the teacher and the student.
It is both an intuitive and research-backed fact that actively engaged students are more likely to perform better in academics and standardized tests and are less likely to burnout from learning. However, most tutors struggle with boosting student engagement and fail to keep them involved after the first few lessons. For some reason, almost every tutor at some point feels that no technique of engaging the students works after a certain time.
Let’s give you now the glad tidings! It is not only possible but it is also very easy to keep your students engaged in the longer term. All you need to know (and actively practice) is the following:
1. Do your homework on the student, first!
Yes, you read it right! Don’t limit your definition of tutor’s homework to just lesson preparation or printing of usable notes. Invest in every student like their performance is your passion project to boost student engagement like never before. Start with the basics of knowing about them to personalize your interaction with them during a lesson.
For example, if your student is a football enthusiast, you can print a football-themed math worksheet every now and then. Go a step beyond and replace terms in the common word problems with football terminologies and watch your general student engagement levels shoot up instantly!
The flip side: What would happen if you went about teaching a student without knowing their personal side? Consider this:
Mary decided to teach Spanish to a 9-year old in her neighborhood. The student James was a painting aficionado. Mary one day while teaching casually commented that she never understood the hype about the Monalisa. Can you guess what must have happened next? Yes, James could never engage with her fully, after he learned that Mary didn’t respect painters – especially Da Vinci who happened to be his idol.
2. Invest time in setting up free-flowing communication
Get to know about your students’ hobbies, goals, interests, fears, and even key anecdotes from the past. It can be slightly tricky in the beginning to elicit so much from a student, however, with the time you can get them talking. Do this if the student doesn’t open up:
- Tell funny anecdotes from your life and lighten the air around talking about themselves
- Listen with respect and patience whenever the students tell you about their difficulties with a subject
- Keep a few minutes spare before/after every lesson to strike a banter with the student without making it look forced or pre-planned
- Use self-deprecating humor if required and use only positive sentences like, ‘it is okay to make an intelligent mistake like this, I would have done a way sillier mistake at your age!”
- Talk briefly about world happenings – the news, this will help the student understand that their conversations with you can go beyond the textbooks
- Talk about your low points or give examples that can motivate your student to speak up freely about their doubts and fears while studying (and don’t limit it to just the subject at hand)
- Praise your students whenever possible (a small compliment like, “hey, I like your shirt!” can do wonders in keeping them interested. Take note of your students as closely as you can and make a mention – always positively, even if it’s feedback.)
3. Integrate technology with traditional teaching
Today’s generation loves technology and hence it’s a key to boosting overall student engagement. Sticking to the age-old methods of oral and written instruction can bore the student after a while. Whip up some fun in the daily dose of textbook learning by doing the following activities:
- Use digital puzzles, tests, interactive quizzes for periodic assessments
- Utilize the power of animated tutorials that are available for almost all subjects (and all topics) on YouTube and other free websites
- Maintain a progress record (and a lesson plan) online if possible and allow your student to collaborate by working on it on shared Google spreadsheets
- Virtual treasure hunts (a learning game of sorts) are a good idea too!
Using technology is the best and the easiest way to make your student collaborate with you rather than be a plain instruction-taker.
Also read: 7 Best Practices for Online Tutors
4. Don’t make it all work and no play!
“Genius Hour” (also called, “20% Time” or “Passion Time”) has gained a lot of popularity in recent times. It comes from companies like Google where employees are given time during their workweek to pursue their own creativity and hobbies. Tutors too can include such engagement techniques to boost their students’ performance drastically.
Try doing the following to allow for a creative vent while teaching:
- Invite all your students for a physical or a virtual meetup if possible (it can be like an informal mini party) every one or two months
- Introduce ‘learning games’ in your lessons (e.g. solving a mathematical riddle, putting together a scientific model, etc.)
- Use more pictures, diagrams, and illustrations wherever possible while teaching
- Do a vision-boarding exercise where students can pictorially represent their goals and dreams
5. Throw in challenges and reward appropriately
Regular assessments can fail to keep a student motivated beyond a point. This is more so if the student you’re teaching is not inclined towards achieving just a 100/100 in a subject. Go a step beyond regular testing methods and throw in some challenges. Ask your students to solve a certain math sum in a certain time frame and make it fun by participating yourself too. Give them goals that they can get excited about and reward them appropriately when they achieve them.
Personalizing rewards can again go a long way in boosting overall engagement. If your student loves soccer, gift them a soccer ball if they fare well in an assessment. If your student is a teenage girl who loves makeup, gift them a colorful eyeshadow palette if they score an A in the subject you teach!
By now you must have realized that the bottom line remains the same: invest in knowing your students and personalize their learning experience in a way that they feel like a co-creator and not like a mere instruction-taker or a downloader.
The challenges around engagement are manifold now with the whole virtual learning scheme of things. But these techniques will work nonetheless if you believe in the impact a little effort can make in boosting student engagement.
Visit Talentnook today to start exploring thousands of student profiles who might be in need of your teaching skills! With help and guidance at hand, we’ll get you started in no time. Stay at home, stay safe, and keep sharing your precious knowledge with the students!