It can be tough to keep your students engaged in your online classes. The current circumstances, too, are a huge factor, as many educators struggle to generate engagement in times of enormous stress. Some of the students have zero interest in their lessons and some are dropping from their classes entirely. Finding ways to help the kids in your class will allow you to achieve better engagement outcomes. While there is not a single right solution to the problem, here are a few strategies that you can try.
Try opening the class with a funny video or meme. Or, you can send them right along with a hello or a weekly reminder of anything that’s class-related. Being a part of your student’s daily or weekly routine will make you much more visible in their lives, even when you’re doing distance learning. That makes a difference. Also, humour helps the kids forget about their worries and lets them get back to feeling like kids.
Reply Early and Often
When your students at an international school in Tokyo message you, don’t reply hours or even days later. If it is possible to reply as soon as you can, do so. That helps make the kids feel valued and important to you. Distance learning is hard on many of the kids because of the isolation it brings. Your text might be the first thing they hear or read all day. That helps build a human connection in the wake of the pandemic.
Change Up Your Tools
Don’t limit your communication tools. Kids these days use a lot of ways to communicate. This might be more confusing to you, and you’ll need to get used to navigating a lot of these platforms or tools. But the ability to communicate and connect with your students is well worth the effort, whether that means talking to them on Twitter or answering a question on IG.
Provide feedback to the kids. You can use video to talk point out their strengths and weaknesses. Doing this can help you build relationships with each of the students in your class. That relationship is crucial to building engagement.
Talk to the Parents
Reach out to the parents. Is there something happening at home that could be affecting the child’s performance at school? Working together with the parents to help improve the engagement of their kids in class is also effective.
Let your students talk about what they feel. Give them a safe space to express their emotions. Are they worried and stressed? Are they sad? Assign an exercise that gives your students the opportunity to touch on these subjects. The more you talk about these things out in the open, the less likely it will be for the kids to bottle these emotions up, which could be harmful to their mental and physical health.
Talk to Them
Don’t just talk to them about school. Learn more about them. Ask them about their family. How are they doing? If your student wants to show you his dog or pet cat, agree with a smile. It’s hard to build relationships online, but these touches of humanity will help.
Show Them You Care
Kids pay attention when they care about the lessons, their classmates, and you. While that’s not going to happen overnight, it helps if you show them that you care. Let them know that you are invested in their growth and development, that you want the best for them, that you want them to succeed. By taking the first step, you are bridging the gap. Kids take their cue from you. If you show them it’s all right—even awesome—to care about others, then they’ll start to care, too. And when they care, then they’ll be engaged.
Reduce the Assignments
A common complaint in the past few months has been that the assignments and projects have been relentless. Parents and children have been flooded, with some of the students even crying or upset with the number of deliverables they have to complete. Don’t overdo it, then. It’s important that you don’t overload the schedule of the kids in your classes by assigning unnecessary tasks.
Check Your Behavior
Do a self-assessment. How are you treating your students in the class? Are you patient with them? Or, do you snap at the slightest provocation? That could be why you have low engagement levels, too? Kids usually follow the example of the adults around them. If you are stressed or not all that interested in the lessons, the kids will see that, too. It might be time to be more mindful of how you act in class.
Generating engagement can be tough in online classes. But that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. With these tips, you’ll see the engagement improve in your class much, much sooner.
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