Nothing improves student engagement more than finding ways to show you care about them, especially when they have success in the classroom. And while it’s not possible to have a pizza party every Friday (I’ve had students ask), there are things you can do on a regular basis that can help fill your students with self esteem.
You don’t want students giving full applause on a regular basis. It distracts other learning that might be going on in the room. What you can do is start the tradition of “golf clapping” whenever someone makes a breakthrough. Simply give a quiet series of claps in whole group instruction. You might even tilt your chin up. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the trend will spread.
Good email/text home
Too often, teachers focus on the negative. So when a student hears that you’ll be contacting their parents, they’ll assume the worst. Instead, make sure it’s known that good calls/emails/texts home are available and can be earned with success. It especially has an effect on older students who might be lobbying their parents for privileges or expensive electronics.
At regular intervals, reward a student with the opportunity to show off their hobby in a short presentation. You might think that kids don’t like giving presentations, but it’s actually just that they don’t like giving presentation on things they don’t care about. This works two-fold: there is the reward aspect, but it also gives them a chance to practice their communication skills (a valuable next gen standards requirement).
Sit close to/far away from the teacher
There are two opposing sides to this one. Younger students idolize their teachers, so sitting near them makes the student feel very special and works as a great reward. Older students, although they may really like their teacher (especially if you’re using the ideas on this list), want independence more than anything else. Allowing them to move to the far corner of the room shows them trust and is less disruptive than letting them sit with their friends.
Relax, it’s not actual graffiti. It’s just the ability to write anything they want (within reason) on one of your boards. Students love to give shout outs to their friends, favorite TV shows, or whatever.
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