Every year states seem to use a new metric to show if a student is hitting learning goals. As a result, teachers are feeling the strain of constantly being tested for effectiveness and are looking for answers. We’re asking some of our top shops how they meet the challenge.

Jennifer T of the shop EngagingLessons has some thoughts on the most effective way she’s found to increase student engagement in her classroom.

As a middle school teacher of 17 years, there’s one thing I believe truly changes the classroom.

It’s not about having all the right rules set into place, or the perfect looking classroom.

If you want your students to really achieve their potential, you need them truly engaged.

Now some teachers think this comes from changing their lesson plan to incorporate activities and the cute crafts to break up the standard day. However in my experience, true engagement is all about having a genuine relationship with your students.

In short – if you want an engaged classroom students need to know you as much as you need to know them. You have to create an environment of warmth and acceptance the second they step in your room.

There’s a ton of ways to build a relationship with your students including finding out:

  • Their likes and dislikes
  • Where they come from
  • What they are afraid of and what they struggle with

But most importantly: what are their dreams? When you figure out what lights them up and get them interested in learning, your lessons are more likely to have an impact.

If you are having classroom management issues, it is not because you have the “hard class,” or the most talkative group. Claim that talkative, huge group of students as YOUR kids and you will see a classroom of respect, toward you and each other.

It really comes down this: get knee to knee with them and LOVE them.  Trust me, I have had classes of over 40 and absolutely NO support.  But those were MY kids and I loved them and they KNEW it!  I am finally really getting to see the rewards of being a truly engaging teacher now that they are in college. They are still finding ways to communicate with me and tell me about their lives because they know I care.

Once you have those relationships built, you can have true engagement with your students.  Learning can be fun and you can successfully do activities that encourage them to think outside the box. They will be more willing to take risks in their learning in the safe environment of your classroom.

I will leave you with this quote, “Teachers who put relationships first don’t just have students for one year; they have students who view them as their teacher for LIFE.”

For more great materials, be sure to check out EngagingLessons here.

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