How to Engage Students in a Large Class

by Ella Wilson
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Teaching a large class is nothing less than an extreme sport. Teaching itself is a profession that requires a lot of effort, time, and patience. Although, when it comes to teaching a large class, all of the things mentioned may not seem enough. No matter how much patience you have students in a large class may seem hard to manage. Sometimes this difficulty is attributed to teacher impatience and sometimes students are just not responsive enough. Teachers who are giving their 100% often get stressed that their efforts are not paying off. Although it is not always the teacher who is to blame.

In a small class, small efforts are usually enough. But a large class can bring the greatest and strongest teachers to their knees. We asked several teachers about what’s the hardest part of teaching a large class. They had different answers but one thing that all teachers are struggling with is student engagement. Teachers said that students in the current age already have a short attention span. They believe that it is hard to get their attention and even harder to get them to speak in a class. These teachers believe that student engagement is extremely important to achieve great results but achieving that engagement has become almost impossible. Considering the urgency of the situation, we came up with a few strategies that may help the teachers boost their class interaction and engagement with the students.

1- Gamification

Students competing against one another is not a new concept. Teachers have been doing it for ages to achieve heightened class performance and good results. Creating teams in a class is a classic example of traditional Gamification. Although we found that modern methods of competition and gaming are what teachers need to increase engagement.

Modern Gamification usually consists of digital methods that bring out the competitive side of students. There are many teachers who are using digital gaming applications to get the students to talk to one another. Teachers can get creative with their digital games and create teams within the classroom. They can add milestones, hurdles, and badges so that students can get competitive in a productive way. The most important part of Gamification should team so that students would get a chance to talk to one another and learn to work in groups.

2- Flipped Class Model

The flipped learning model is also a birth of the digital age. This method works best when it comes to boosting class engagement as it balances out the responsibility and power between teachers and students. As obvious from the name, in this method, the roles of teachers and students are flipped so that both are equally invested in-class learning. Teachers assign basic work as homework so that students can understand some concepts at home, and discuss them in-depth with teachers in the classroom. Teachers believe that the flipped learning model has helped them engage more students in class learning and improving their grades simultaneously. This great factor could be attributed to the fact that in a flipped learning model, students have more power over the learning styles.

We have stressed multiple times before that students learn better when they choose their learning styles for themselves. All students are different and they learn in different ways. Monotonous class may not work for every student as some students learn faster than others. Therefore, when students have the freedom to decide their learning styles, they naturally achieve better grades.

3- Question & Answer Session

One of the best ways to boost class engagement is to have a proper question and answer session. In this session, students can ask their questions and initiate healthy and productive discussions in the classroom. Long lectures may not give students a chance to ask their queries and get clarifications. When there is an assigned for discussions, students would feel motivated to share their thoughts and questions.

4- Positive Classroom Environment

A good teacher knows that every student is not the same. Not all students have the confidence to raise their hands in the classroom. As mentioned earlier, students have different ways of learning and have their own weaknesses and strengths. It is the job of a teacher to acknowledge their weaknesses and strengths and customize lessons according to the need of the students. Although in a large classroom, it can be hard to personalize the learning of each and every single student. Under such a situation, it can become hard for teachers to know the students well.

One of the best ways to overcome this problem is to be friendly with students and to create a wholesome environment in the classroom. It is a fact that students are different from each other. Some students have anxiety, some are not confident enough, and some have a fear of being wrong in a classroom. It becomes the job of a teacher to create such an environment where students don’t feel scared or threatened. Teachers may want to be less strict and more favorable with their classroom so that a healthy environment could be formed to boost engagement.

5- Open-Ended Feedback

Every student has been in a situation where they find in it their selves to ask a question to the teacher but end up receiving no feedback. This can be extremely demotivating for students and may prevent them from asking their questions in future. It is crucial to provide the students with timely feedback so that they can work on their weaknesses and know that their queries and concerns are important to their teachers. While providing feedback make sure that it is not close-ended, but is capable of starting a healthy discussion with the student. Such feedback would provide the student with more clearance about their mistakes and strong areas.

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