Engaging Students in the Classroom
Keeping students engaged throughout a lesson is often one of the biggest challenges facing teachers. A more engaged classroom leads to more efficient learning, better behaviour and a deeper understanding of a subject matter. It also helps to build a more positive classroom where all students feel comfortable and relaxed.
It’s not just teachers that play a part in creating an engaging learning environment; teaching assistants also share this role and are essential in providing valuable support in the classroom. Whether it’s providing fresh ideas for lesson planning, helping to create an environment that fosters curiosity, or helping to strengthen the trust between students and teachers, a teaching assistant is invaluable to creating fun, captivating lessons.
Support Teachers in Implementing Dynamic Lesson Plans
Sometimes it’s not the subject itself, but how it’s taught that causes students to disengage. Student success and good behaviour is far more likely when your students enjoy what they learn and how they learn. It’s important to always think of new and exciting ways to teach information as this will inevitably make for a more productive and positive learning experience. Think about the intended learning outcomes and how a particular activity will be received by each individual. The more you get to know your students and how they learn, the better you can assist in that learning.
Lesson planning is one of the most time consuming activities that a teacher will undertake. Having the support of a teaching assistant will help to provide new and fresh ideas to maintain a high level of student engagement in lessons.
A Positive Attitude is Essential
Education requires a positive attitude from all members of staff and children will look to both teachers and teaching assistants to help guide them. A study on the importance of a positive attitude amongst teachers found that 91.2% of students thought that a good attitude had a positive effect on their learning. 88.3% of students also stated that a positive teacher would affect their personal performance.
Being positive and enthusiastic will help students feel supported and will be an effective building block in creating a productive, relaxed atmosphere for students.
It’s important to note that even the most experienced teacher will have a bad day and teaching assistants provide valuable support during this time. When this inevitably occurs, it’s recommended to be open with your students. You should always keep personal issues out of the classroom but communicating that you’ve had a bad day is highly effective and lets students know that it’s ok to not feel your best at all times. The perceived shared information and trust is also a great way to build rapport with your class.
Encourage Your Students to Ask Questions
A healthy classroom is one where there is a dialogue in both directions between staff and students. Encouraging students to ask questions and building an environment where this is the norm is a fantastic way to keep students engaged as it will normalise curiosity. Not only this, but questions will help with learning as problems will be discussed openly allowing other students to engage. For staff, questions act as an effective pointer to show where students are struggling and for which areas more support is required. Teaching assistants should be on the look out to ask the teacher questions they think the students may need clarification on – this models the behaviour you want to see in your students and encourages discussion.
Your classroom should be a safe space for questions. Highlight the importance of asking them, give praise when students do ask questions and try to offer enough space in between topics for students to process any queries they may have. It’s also worth noting the importance of framing questions in a different light. As a teaching assistant, try to move away from sentences such as ‘do you have any questions?’ and word this in a more supportive tone such as ‘this is something that a lot of students struggle with, do you want to go over anything in more detail?’.
Establish a Trusting Environment
Getting all of your students fully engaged is all about creating a trusting environment where all individuals feel comfortable. Students will have a better learning experience, they will be more inclined to join in with classroom activities and discussions and it will vastly improve the relationship between staff and students.
It’s important to begin the relationship by openly discussing trust with your students. Get them to highlight actions that teachers and students can take to demonstrate trust in the classroom. You should also be tolerant and approachable, as well as consistent with your efforts to support in the classroom. It’s important to give students more responsibility to build trust. This can be as small as trusting them to complete work without doing it for them, all the way to giving extra classroom jobs such as helping to plan trips or keep the classroom tidy.
Establishing trust comes from ensuring that all students feel supported during their learning. A teaching assistant provides support for students who need it most and should aim to make learning an inclusive experience.
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If you’re interested in taking the first steps in your career in teaching and want to get started in a teaching assistant role, browse our full range of jobs and submit your CV today. We specialise in teaching assistant roles and have a vast network of schools and positions to ensure that you find a role that’s perfect for you.