“You could be the most brilliant, informed person on earth, but if your class is in a state of boredom, your teaching isn’t making an impact.”

Modern-day teachers have the challenge of not only understanding the content they teach, but also pairing their knowledge with high-impact strategies that are most effective for students. Wonderful teachers are aware that before their students can learn, they must build a positive relationship and develop a shared understanding of each child’s personal goals and bring to light their purpose for attending school each day. Student engagement is really underpinned by quality relationships, which take time, patience, and trust between both sides. When student-teacher relationships are at the core of teaching and learning, classroom environments really thrive!

Technology is deeply embedded within both primary and secondary learning experiences. Thoughtful use of devices can certainly improve education and boost student engagement; however, children cannot spend all of their time in school learning on digital devices. In Australia, the current recommendation is for no more than 2 hours of screen time per day for children and teens. The reality is most kids are getting too much screen time. So how does this impact their engagement in the classroom when the iPads and laptops are removed from the learning activities.

Even though the technology is stimulating and engaging for students, it’s important to note that technology is a tool in education, it should not replace the teacher nor the social interactions that take place. With that being said, here are six ways to increase your student’s attention in the modern-day classroom- without devices being the focal motivator in these strategies.

1. Make learning fun and challenging:To children and teens, fun means diverse activities, novelty, a sense of adventure, as well as age-appropriate humour and laughter. In order to make learning enjoyable and exciting, teachers must consider learning from a student’s perspective. There are many wonderful educational resources for teachers on the educational websites for teachers that can be printed out and used in the classroom. The materials have been created with the intention of making learning fun and engaging with hands-on task cards, work booklets, informational content, and activities. They are perfect for giving your students choices and incorporating games into the lessons you teach.

2.  Collaborative learning:Such a great way to enhance student motivation during learning activities. It occurs when students work in small groups, and everyone participates in a task. This approach works well when it’s supported by meaningful tasks designed by the teacher. It involves students actively cooperating by negotiating roles, responsibilities and outcomes. This also ties in with the next way we can increase student engagement…

3.  Problem-based learning: in a nutshell, problem-based learning is a pedagogical approach that is student-centred. Students work in small groups, the teacher’s role is to be the facilitator, and problems are the key stimulus for learning. Primary and secondary school students love grappling with real-life problems. Therefore problem-based learning makes the activity meaningful, and at the same time, students are able to master a particular skill. The learning itself results from the process of working towards an understanding or resolution of a problem.

4 Hands-on work:Students exhibit high levels of engagement during hands-on tasks, which can be incorporated into any key learning area and year level. For example, students may design a science demonstration using materials from he laboratory, write a poem during an English lesson, create an obstacle course as a sports activity or make an analogue clock with a paper plate. Hands-on work doesn’t require lots of physical materials to build something, rather it involves engaging with the subject matter to solve a problem or to create something.

5. Active Demonstrations and Student DiscussionDemonstrations are a practical way to show and explain how something works, can be performed, or will look like when it is finished. Many teachers know that demonstrations can be a very effective way of engaging and enhancing student learning. However, the demonstration is brought alive through active student engagement during the process. This means students are actively involved in discussing their thoughts which generate interest in a topic. This can be done by discussing the purpose of the demonstration and linking it to real world concepts as well as discussing theorists who help us to understand what’s happening and comparing observations to prior predictions. Since this pedagogical approach is less teacher-oriented, it gives the students an opportunity to produce questions and to become more active in the learning process, therefore increasing motivation to learn before, during, and after the demonstration.

6. Relating content to students’ lives: Educators who ask their pupils, “what is this concept/ information useful for?” and use examples or stories which are applicable to students’ lives to notify students about the importance of the learning, thus create an engaging learning atmosphere. As teachers, we need to keep learning real, relevant, and relatable in ways that tap into students interests and experiences. For example, in an English lesson, we can ask students to write about their family members or explain where they live. We can read books that teach them about real-world scenarios and conflicts that they may experience in the near future, e.g., patience, friendship, being brave, safety, truthfulness etc. Relevant learning means effective learning. In order to achieve this, the teacher must get to know their student’s personal aspirations, interests, and cultural experiences.