Being a teacher is a lot like being a cruise director. Both jobs require a great deal of creativity, organization, and communication skills to keep everyone engaged and happy. Let’s face it…all these responsibilities teachers face in addition to actually teaching can be a lot like trying to juggle while riding a unicycle on a tightrope…in a hurricane. It’s a lot to manage, but today we’re making the argument that when you focus on elevating one particular thing in your classroom, you reap the benefits both in and out of school!
Effects of Engaging Lessons
Let’s look at what happens when all your lessons are viewed through the lens of making sure they are engaging! (We do want to note that this is assuming you are already focused on your standards and making sure your lessons are rigorous.)
1. Increased student participation
When lessons are engaging, students are more likely to pay attention, participate, and retain information. This means you are more likely to see positive results in student learning outcomes. Students will try harder and stick with a challenging concept when they are engaged in the material, which means you’ll see growth in their work!
2. Improved classroom management
Engaging lessons can help reduce classroom disruptions and improve behavior management because students are more focused and less likely to become bored or restless. This reason alone is enough to view your lessons through the engagement lens. Students aren’t going to be goofing off and distracting others when they’re in the middle of a competitive knockout game and they want their team to win!
3. Enhanced teacher creativity
Developing engaging lessons requires a certain amount of creativity and experimentation, which can help you develop new skills and ideas that you can use in future lessons. This keeps things fresh and exciting and helps you actually look forward to Monday mornings because you are pumped about a mock trial you’re trying or a Socratic seminar you’ve created!
4. Higher teacher job satisfaction
When lessons are engaging, you are more likely to feel fulfilled and satisfied with your work, which can lead to a more positive attitude and greater job satisfaction. Teaching comes with enough areas that are draining…unsupportive admin, demanding parents, and a lack of subs…these are things you often can’t control! Instead, focus on what you can change…increasing the engagement of your lessons!
5. Greater autonomy
When you are able to create and implement engaging lessons, you have more autonomy over your work, which can increase job satisfaction and reduce stress.
If you’re at a school where you are required to use scripted materials or stick to what curriculum is provided, look for areas where you can add in some creativity. Maybe it’s using the provided textbook questions in an investigation trail or a silent debate instead of just as written responses like suggested in the textbook!
6. Improved teacher-student relationships
Engaging lessons can help build positive relationships between you and your students, as students are more likely to feel connected to the material and you. Think of those end-of-year notes you receive from students when they tell you how much fun they had doing a certain project or activity. What if you were strategic about making those consistently occur in your classroom?
7. Enhanced professional development
Developing engaging lessons can help you build your professional skills and knowledge, which can benefit you in future job opportunities or promotions. It’s like when you go to an awesome ELA conference and you come back motivated and excited to try out a bunch of new strategies and lessons! What if you actually put those into place instead of letting the ideas gather dust in your notebook that sits in the bottom drawer of your desk!
What ripple effects would happen to your students AND YOU if those engaging lesson ideas got scheduled into your planner? Would you look forward to the lesson? Would you hype it up for your students? Would you grow stronger as a teacher?
8. Improved student assessment
Engaging lessons also help teachers accurately assess student understanding and progress, which in turn will help inform future instruction decisions and support student success. You know there are multiple ways to assess students instead of just a final test. Imagine the results you might see from students who get to show off their learning in more creative ways…a music video project, a one pager, a visual essay, or a podcast. The ownership is on them and you’re creating an engaging environment to showcase their creativity and knowledge!
9. Greater impact on student learning
Ultimately, engaging lessons can have a significant impact on student learning outcomes, which can be a source of pride and motivation for you. Your students are getting results…they are meeting and exceeding the standards, and more importantly, developing a lifelong love of learning because of the engaging environment you provided!
When you focus on elevating engagement in your classroom, you not only benefit your students but also yourself as a teacher. By creating engaging lessons, you can increase student participation, improve behavior management, enhance teacher creativity, increase job satisfaction, and build positive relationships with your students.
So, why not make engagement a top priority in your classroom and reap the benefits both in and out of school?