Summary – A student’s participation in school and classroom activities not only nurtures them but keeps them happy and active the whole day. Most teachers are always eager to know how to encourage the students for classroom participation as it helps with active learning. In this article, let us learn a few methods that can be implemented to improve student participation in school activities.
As Euripides said, “Learning is more effective when it is an active rather than a passive process.” The participation of students in classroom activities increases their interest in a topic or a course. It also provides an opportunity for the teacher to assess the student's understanding of the course. Active learning not only provides better results for the students but makes teaching interesting and fun at the same time.
So, how can you improve student participation in school activities?
If we take classes that have more than 20 - 25 students, teachers can easily break down the barrier using some simple methods. This improves student participation and keeps them at ease the whole day.
Mentioned below are a few methods that can help you foster an active environment that encourages students to participate in various classroom activities.
Plan in Advance – A course can be taught in different ways, and the most effective of them is via a discussion, cooperative learning or a lecture. When planning to teach a course, the teacher needs to determine the method he/she intends to use for teaching, and how student participation can be easily integrated into it. Every class need not be the same, but knowing the teaching method you are planning to implement will be of great help for sure. Encouraging high school students to participate in activities will prove to be beneficial when they have to take part in international science fairs or inter-school competitions.
Know the Names – Knowing the names of each of the students is very important. You, as a teacher would be surprised to know how knowing the student's names can impact their participation. By calling out the students with their names, you make them feel connected to you and their peers and do not feel anonymous. This boosts their confidence and encourages them to participate in activities.
In situations when the class or the gathering is large, you can ask the students to place placards as well. This act of calling a student by their name will certainly create a spark and increase their participation in school activities.
Set the Rules – If you wish to plan some classroom activities, you need to set some rules as well. It is thus important for the students to know what is being expected from them during participation. You can start by explaining your teaching plan for the course, and how they can respond or ask questions during the lecture.
You can let them know if you are fine with them asking questions during the class or only during a certain time. Would you give them time for group work, and will students be graded for their classroom participation? These are a few common things you can explain to the students clearly. You also need to set rules about student’s interaction with one another. You can set up a few easy to follow guidelines like showing respect, not bullying, not interrupting, etc.
You, as a teacher also need to pay attention to your body language. You need to be welcoming as that keeps the students comfortable, and they come up with a lot of questions. Just walk out into the class when you are teaching and ask questions in between. This will send a message about the goal you have in mind.
Divide and Rule – You can even divide the class into different groups now and then, and ask them to solve a problem together. By doing so, students get to know each other and can participate easily when the classroom setting is large. You can let the students interact with each other and can ask the groups to report their answers orally in front of the whole class.
Encourage Write –in Comments – Many students do not do their best when on their feet. This can be due to a lack of confidence, or they are not eager to express in front of a large class. Teachers can ask a question and encourage such students to write the answers in their note cards. The cards can be collected, and the answers can be read out, encouraging the other students for a debate. Students often love to take part in international school competitions, and such a routine will for sure boost confidence even in shy students.
Listen Well and Respond – Teachers need to create the right atmosphere in the class and need to pay attention to how they respond to their students. The verbal, as well as non-verbal cues used, can intimidate the students or can even encourage them to be active. Make sure to have eye contact with your students, especially when they are speaking. You can even encourage students who are quiet with eye content. If you have a lot of active students who dominate the debate, involve other students asking them their opinion.
Give enough time for the students to respond and get used to silence at times. Never interrupt when the students are talking about a topic. When if a student is wrong, allow him/her to complete their thoughts and redirect them to the right answer.
Do not Be Blunt – Students often respond to questions with wrong answers. Instead of being blunt, you can look for ways to let them know that their answer is not quite right. Use a subtle tone and do not make them feel that they are wrong and have made a mistake. You can even ask them to explain the reason for the answer or let them know the right answer once they are done. You can even spend some time to refer to the questions asked by the students. It is important for a teacher to read the room, as it helps them to understand their students better. This makes it easy to know about students who are open to feedback, who might need a gentle push or about those who are not so confident about participating in activities.
Debrief – Once you are done with the class, you need to review which students participated and who did not. This way, you can draw the students who have participated less in discussions in the next class. You can ask them a direct question or ask them after the class about a specific topic.
Teachers need to put in a lot of effort to improve student participation in class and school activities. Start by setting the tone, and always start the classes by following the above-mentioned techniques. Though it might seem like an extra effort, you will feel encouraged once the students start to participate actively. Remember that your students will always learn more and be prepared to face the future – thanks to your efforts.
AUTHOR ( FGSI )
FGSI is an organization that provides a rewarding platform for students and young innovators to showcase their projects in fields of science, technology and more. FGSI has partnered with various science fairs, providing global exposure to participating students. Visit www.fgsi.co.in to know more.