Engaging and motivating students to keep them truly committed to learning

Juliana Tavares

Engaging and motivating students to learn, along with classroom management, is probably the biggest challenge teachers face today. How can we make our students actually enjoy what we teach and be engaged in the classroom? Moreover, how can our job make them motivated enough to learn on their own?

For starters, let us try to remember ourselves as students. If we stop to think about it, we will realize that we have many things in common with our students today, even though a lot has changed since we were in school. However, we always remember the subjects for which we had the best and the worst teachers. That is probably because what really draws our attention and gets us involved in learning is how meaningful what we are learning is to us. Does it “speak” to us in any way? How important is it to our lives? What are we going to do with it? How can we apply it to our lives?

The role of the teacher in engaging students and making the subject meaningful consists of, basically, enabling students to find the answers to these questions in what we teach them. When we are successful engaging students in what we teach, we can see their growing motivation day by day.

In order to do that, teachers themselves must be involved with what they are teaching. Otherwise, how are you going to make your students fall in love with something that does not do anything for you? We have selected some tips that can help you engage your students:

Student engagement happens through communication – Students can sense when we are genuinely interested in they have to say, in what they like and do not like, in how they learn best. If I am able to show them I care, there is not much else that needs to be done. Listening is also the best way to truly get to know your students. Once this happens, you will be able to suit your classes to their profiles and make learning meaningful.

Student engagement depends on rapport – in order to build rapport with your students, you must use your personality, sense of humor and charisma. None of this is easy unless you are genuinely willing to do it. Do not take for granted that students will be involved in your classes just because they have to. Give them reasons to do so. Rapport only happens when you are able to make a positive connection with your students, based on their feelings for you. It depends very much on honesty and openness, and it cannot be faked.

Student engagement depends on your own engagement – as we said before, rapport leads to motivation. However, students can easily read your feelings, and they will be able to tell whether you are truly engaged in your classes or just there because they have to be. Therefore, finding passion in what to do is key to fostering motivation and engagement in your students.