How to encourage participation in your class and make your students want to come to school

Great tips for encouraging participation in your classes: they’ll be looking forward to coming to school!
8 minutes
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Expecting traditional learning to work for your entire class is a bit like expecting the same size sweater to fit everyone. This is one of the most wonderful things about being a teacher, as well as being a challenge: each one of the little humans in your class is unique. That is why educational strategies don’t work the same in all cases. 

As a teacher, you need to go the extra mile, come up with alternatives to improve class participation, and make sure no one is left behind. And that’s what this post is all about. 

During my years as a teacher, I discovered some tricks that work, that really motivate students, and that help raise their grades. Even those students who seem to always have their heads in the clouds and can never seem to achieve academic success can change their results.

Allow me to show you ways to awaken a new enthusiasm in your students, to motivate them better, and to increase class participation. When you achieve this, you’ll also see your relationship with your group become closer, which has benefits that extend beyond the academic. At the end of the school year, you, your students, and their parents will be like one big happy family.

Let’s get your students excited to come to school and make every day an adventure that they’ll remember forever.

7 tips for improving participation in class

1. Use current topics of interest

School should not be limited to the curriculum. What’s happening on TV, and in the world? Who won the match last night? Is the Jonas Brothers’ latest song all over the radio? Commenting on trending topics will help you connect with your students, but just a few comments and mentions here and there; we know you can’t waste an hour talking about The Voice!

It is also important to know about their interests. You can start your class by asking them how their weekend went and what they did. This generates trust and a bond with you, which is something they may not have with other teachers. And this bond generates engagement

If you’re just starting out with the group and need to break the ice, try asking questions: ‘What was the best part of the weekend?’ I’m sure everyone will want to tell you their stories. It’ll also help you discover things about their lives and get to know them better. 

2. Try gamification

Why gamify your teaching materials? For a very simple reason: to motivate students to learn. With gamification, a subject that may not be their favorite can become fun and engaging.

iconos sobre fondo rosa para sugerir la gamificación en educación

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Gamification in education

How to introduce it to your classroom with Genially

For example, math is one of the most disliked subjects, but you can get students to look forward to math class. Instead of feeling forced into it, they’ll be eager to learn.

And you don’t need to invest a lot of time or reinvent the wheel. A trick that always worked very well for me is to make one of their favorite characters your ally. In my case, a Pokémon would email them before class to give them instructions for the next day. You’ll be amazed at how many walls are broken down with that little nod to their tastes and interests.

All you need to do is create an email account with the name of the character and send the email to all your students. That’s enough to reel them in and get them excited about coming to class. It’s as simple as that. 

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Course: Have fun learning

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3. Use intersecting content 

Or apply gamification to projects that combine different areas, skills, or topics. This also has benefits for the teaching team, because it improves coordination between teachers of different subjects. Finding ways to link intersecting content enhances both teaching and learning.

They love to break out of the linear schedule and be surprised, and making learning less schematic means they are more engaged. The idea is to go much further than getting them to rote learn content in class, regurgitate it in the exam, and forget about it soon after. 

The more comprehensive the gamified environment, the more learning is integrated into the daily classroom routine, and frictions are also reduced. Learning becomes a more complete and enriching experience. Get the rest of the faculty on board, it’s worth it!

4. Prioritize objectives over timetable 

This point is closely related to the previous one. It can be useful to reflect on what will be more fruitful, sticking to the schedule or achieving a goal every day

As I said, making the most of the element of surprise and breaking with the linear organization of the timetable or plan is very positive, but it also implies making the day’s objectives very clear

Even if your students see that the timetable isn’t being followed and the subjects change, they should bear in mind at all times what we want to achieve each day. Write the objective on the board first thing in the morning: you’ll be surprised at how your students can manage their time when they know what’s expected of them.

5. Group work and teambuilding activities

This one’s a classic. It works just as well in schools as in companies. 

Think of the typical innovative company that has a ping pong or pool table in the office. Why do they spend their money on these things? Well, because it has been proven that doing different things from time to time helps you concentrate; it boosts your productivity. Everyone knows that you have to take breaks at work. 

At school, that function is fulfilled by recess, but this isn’t enough. Don’t let it be limited to just the designated breaks. Using teambuilding activities from time to time helps the group work much better.

Set aside a time each month to play with your class, and announce that on X day ‘we’re going to do something different’. They’ll be full of curiosity and enthusiasm! If you haven’t tried it yet, you’ll see how it can help you discover things about your class. For example, that they love board games.

Of course, you will get even more out of the games if you connect them to the subjects. Try using Taboo for vocabulary. After a play session, the explanation of the related subject matter will be much easier for them to absorb.

Try this template: you can customize it with the subject content of your choice.

TEMPLATE

Jumanlly

6. Ask them what they would like to learn

Getting your students on your side and cooperating with you may be easier than you think. How about asking them what they want to learn? Then you have to find a way to relate their answers to your academic content.

This strategy is related to project-based learning: what do you know and what do you want to know?

For example, imagine you get the answer ‘I like robots’. You can use it to help them learn coordinates. If you find the relationship between what they want to learn and what you need to teach, they’ll see that their interests matter to you, and they’ll be more enthusiastic about coming to your classes. What’s more, they’ll be counting down the days until it’s their turn to choose the theme!

Bonus tip

In Genially there are thousands of templates, on all kinds of themes. Use them to create educational resources related to your students’ favorite topics. The templates are very easy to customize, just edit the lorem ipsum!

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Robot Infographic

7. Value class attendance 

This tip is especially useful in the context of online education, where it can be a challenge to get them to log on. But, in any case and in any context, feeling that their presence is important will have a positive impact. How do we do this? Through the personalization of learning, exclusive content, and rewards. 

By exclusive content, of course, I don’t mean not delivering curricular material to those who do not attend, but rather planning some interesting extra activities. If you announce these activities in advance, nobody will want to miss them. And that special day when the whole class attends is the best time to give rewards.

Plus, if you find ways to personalize learning with different content and different paces, your students won’t want to miss out. It’s all about getting them to think that if they don’t go to class, they’re going to miss something. 

You are the most important tip

In conclusion, the best trick or resource you can bring to your class is you. No one knows your students better than you do. What’s more, your patience, affection, passion, and your attitude in general will make the whole class look forward to going back to school the next day.

All these tips are not magic recipes. Sometimes the most well-prepared thing can go awry and the simplest thing can work incredibly well. The important thing is that you never lose the desire to create excitement and enthusiasm. Tomorrow you’ll have the chance to try again. 

One last piece of advice: challenge them to excel every day, but be mindful of the level of complexity. Difficult things can be frustrating and easy things can be boring. Just look for the balance of encouragement to keep them active and eager.

Do you have any other tips or activities for boosting class participation that you’d like to share with the community? Let us know in the comments!

Fran Quesada
Fran Quesada
A teacher must always be learning. You should always leave room for one more experience. Because in order to educate, you can never stop learning.

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