Make Your Students Talk, Even If They Don’t Want To: Engage Them!
So, engagement is critical for two reasons:
If your students aren’t talking you can’t know what they are hearing or understanding.
If your students aren’t talking, they are more likely to lose interest or get distracted.
Keep your students on their toes by stopping every few minutes and asking to them repeat to you what you just said. So, for instance:
Me: The word legislate means to “to make law”. (pause) What does “legislate” mean?
Students: Stuttering, please repeat what you just said?
By asking the students “What does ‘legislate’ mean”?” literally a second after I just told them the answer, I jolt them all into paying attention. Those who were zoning out or losing focus are suddenly being called upon to exemplify that they were (or weren’t) paying attention.
It’s interesting to watch the reactions (don’t be afraid to simply call someone out by name if no one is responding). Sometimes, your students won’t have a clue, but the beauty of doing this frequently is that they begin to expect the repeated questioning. This persistent questioning conditions them to stay alert in your class because they know what to expect. When they start expecting frequent questioning, sometimes (especially if it’s a question or term you’re just reminding them of from previous lessons), they’ll all respond in unison. Ah, the satisfaction of watching young minds learn!
Are you getting how this works? Set your expectations early in the class and set the standard. You’re the professor and you’re requiring your students to pay attention and you will make sure they will. They’ll catch on eventually and you’ll be rewarded with a beautifully engaged class come mid-semester!
Because your students know that they can’t come into your class and just coast! It’s wonderful! They are learning! Keep it up and check out my third post for one final piece of advice.
The Liberty Belle