Keeping students engaged and back in a routine after 18 months of craziness


Getting your pupils to be fully focused at the start of term is often a challenge, and especially after the craziness in the last 18 months.

After a well-deserved break your pupils are now back in the classroom and as a teacher you’ll undoubtedly want to ensure that they’re on board and engaged with the tasks at hand.

But achieving this is often one of the main challenges for teachers, which is why we’ve rounded up some of the best tips and tricks for staff of all levels to use to when it comes to creating fun and engaging lessons for the school year ahead.

Understanding engagement

A child’s engagement levels in school will ultimately dictate how well they learn and how successfully they can demonstrate their knowledge in exams, coursework and other work.

However it’s also important for teacher’s to recognise that engagement goes far beyond whether a pupil is paying attention and also needs to consider whether they are actively involved in developing their own learning.

Of course there’s no defined way of telling this, which can make it tricky to judge, but how pupils respond to questions, approach tasks and show creativity can all 

indicate how engaged they may or may not be.

If you can gain an understanding of your pupils and what makes them tick, you can then create a learning environment designed to help them succeed.

Guide but don’t go overboard

Pupils require a certain amount of guidance to help their learning, but too much assistance can actually be detrimental when it comes to engagement.

It’s therefore necessary for teachers to find a balance whereby pupils are encouraged to think for themselves, but yet are still working within some confines to ensure the desired learning outcomes.

Providing some limited choices can help to achieve this – from enabling pupils to sit with their friends, to giving them options for how they present a project.

Encourage creativity

Pupils are generally more likely to be engaged with work if they feel they can put their own stamp on it, so look to encourage originality when setting classroom tasks.

By discussing the sorts of skills and processes that should be used, but still providing a level of creative freedom, children can be encouraged to think outside-of-the-box and to put a greater emphasis on innovative and inspirational ideas.

This can often be built into lesson plans in the form of brainstorming and ideation time, and is also a good way of making children feel involved throughout the process.

You may also be able to guide learning through the tasks, so that a child’s natural curiosity will enable them to uncover the key learnings and be inspired to learn 

more in the process.

Relate learning to real-life

If pupils can relate scenarios and ideas to real-life situations, it’s beneficial to both their learning and their understanding, while it also encourages them to take more ownership of their learning.

Using scenarios and diverse examples in lessons can help to involve different pupils too, and it may be the case that different pupils have different outlooks based on their own experiences.

Consider how movement could make a difference

Moving children around the classroom to work in different groups or sit at different desks for tasks can help to keep them engaged, compared to having them sat in the same place for too long.

Even actions such as encouraging them to stand up when speaking can help to keep their brains active and on task.

Numerous studies suggest that movement can help to boost classroom cohesion too, encouraging more pupils to participate in tasks while also building their self-esteem and sense of belonging.