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What is a good way to lighten the atmosphere so that kids will like being in class?We...

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mr-i-answer | High School Teacher | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted December 17, 2009 at 6:22 AM via web

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What is a good way to lighten the atmosphere so that kids will like being in class?

We teachers all know kid do not like listening to us. So what is a good way lighten up the room so they'll like being in class?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 17, 2009 at 6:30 AM (Answer #2)

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This question is going to get moved over to the discussion board since it really is that type of a question...  Anyway, there was a long discussion of why kids are bored, which addresses a lot of the same issues you're talking about.

http://www.enotes.com/enotes-teachers/group/discuss/do-you-know-why-most-students-really-bored-th-63595

In my opinion, you never get all the students to like being in class.  It's just not possible.  However, you can get more of them to like it more of the time.

I think there are two major things that impact this.  First, the teacher's personality -- how they come across to students.  If the teacher seems to care about the subject and the students, they'll tune out less.  Second, the way the lessons are made.  The more variety there is in a typical hour, the better.  A whole hour spent doing the same thing is not going to make very many students really like being in class.

So, I think teachers must show enthusiasm for their subjects and their students and craft lessons that have as much variety as possible.  But I also think teachers have to accept that there will be a certain level of lack of interest no matter what.

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tey | High School Teacher | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted December 17, 2009 at 6:32 AM (Answer #3)

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For me, I don't wear the belief that students won't listen to me. I take over the room with my enthusiasm and real approach to the classroom situation. Your question can be vague, as I have no idea what your manorisms are with the students. For one, teachers who sit behind their desks more than are up and around the room will struggle to be taken seriously. However, up and around the room does not mean looking over the shoulders of students either.

Relationships. That is the answer, build relationships with the students. I do not mean that we come from the stand point of being their friend because they don't respect that. Be what they will respect and then, without a doubt, they will listen.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted December 17, 2009 at 6:57 AM (Answer #4)

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As a teacher I always use humor to create an atmosphere that my students will enjoy.  I also provide a very visual atmosphere that allows the children to have visual ideas to help them along.  A teacher's personality has a big effect on how a student feels upon entering a classroom.  If a student sees a grumpy face on a teacher, he or she is less likely to want to be in the classroom.  The body language of a teacher is very important.  Students are keen observers.  If a teacher thumps his foot, or if she postures disappointment a student will pick-up on it quickly.  Having body language that implies openness and joy in teaching, helps  students to feel welcome and wanted in a classroom.

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted December 17, 2009 at 7:24 AM (Answer #5)

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I have always found that the classes students respond to the best are the ones that encourage lots of debate, allow them to voice an opinion, reassure them that others are genuinely inetersetd in their contribution and that they are being actively listened to . Strangely enough it does not seem to matter what the subject matter is in the terms of arts and humanities. For example, I have seen kids who never thought they had an intest in politics or religious studies get very engaged , hot and bothered during debates on subjects as divers as the death penalty or body piercings. I have seen kids who state that they have no interest in history get very excited during well-managed debates on slavery or the Irish potato famine. I think soooo much depends on the teacher - and not the setting.

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booksnmore | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 17, 2009 at 8:38 AM (Answer #6)

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I like to lighten up the room through humor and banter, just joking around with them. Sometimes I play really short video clips to emphasize a point in something we're discussing. Often as not, the clips are humorous but really drive home a point. But I think there are many additional ways to make class appealing. I've found that when students see that you're personally interested in THEM that they really respond. That's tough when you have big classes, but even a moment of direct eye contact, using their name, stopping them on the way out or the way in to ask how their weekend went...all goes a long way to making them want to be there.

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ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted December 17, 2009 at 9:57 AM (Answer #7)

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I have not read the other posts, but here is something I have learned over the years. When I started teaching, and kids seemed to be focused on other things, I used to think they weren’t listening. When clearly explained instructions were not followed, I used to think they weren’t listening. With age and maturity as a teacher, I have come to realize that sometimes those very kids who don’t "listen" are already processing something I’ve said. Perhaps understanding that all students process in different ways and at different speeds would help.

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lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted December 17, 2009 at 10:00 AM (Answer #8)

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Brain research has shown that individuals can only remain optimally focused for a certain period of time. I'm not sure how long this is, but it seems to me that it is less than an hour. Breaking a lesson up into smaller sections and having some kind of transitional activity between the sections (even if it's just to stretch)might help.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 17, 2009 at 8:56 PM (Answer #9)

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First, if parents would teach their own children at an early age that school is an important and serious educational experience, then teachers would not have to continually worry about ENTERTAINING them in order to keep their attention. Too many students attend school strictly with a focus on the social aspects that go on in between class time and then complain because class isn't fun or exciting each and every day. Some subjects, such as math and grammar, for instance, require serious and often monotonous repetition and a like atmosphere for optimum learning.

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted December 18, 2009 at 10:40 AM (Answer #10)

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You must meet the students where they are. The younger people are, the more each thinks he or she is the center of the universe. That means you have to enter each universe where the student is. What is of interest to the student? Music, comic books, video games?  Students have interests and if we can use those interests to engage them, why not do so?  I had a student last year who was interested in military history. So I figured out a way to get that into class discussion.  I have a student now who loves art.  She did a presentation in world cultures on Islamic art.  Obviously, we cannot do this all the time, but as we begin with each new class, it is the best way to get started. Once I show an interest in the students, they seem far more willing to show an interest in what I have to give them. There should be a certain reciprocity in the classroom. 

Each student learns in a different way, too, and thus, it is up to us to provide ways of learning that meet the needs of the student.  I work at appealing to as many senses as possible, with music, visual material, hands-on projects, and sometimes even food.

I also think that when students are engaged in teaching themselves and one another, they are not as likely to be bored.  There is no reason why everyone in the class should not be responsible for teaching everyone else, including the teacher, something about the content area.

I know this sounds like a great deal of work, and it is, but when one of these connections is forged, I swear I can see a lightbulb go on, and it's all worth it.   

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msteacher203 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 21, 2009 at 6:04 PM (Answer #11)

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You can engage students by incorporating technology, providing interesting culminating tasks, and playing fun review games...

However, one of the easiest ways to have students like coming to class is to show interest in them. Know them. Greet every one of your students by name every day when they walk in. Give sincere compliments too. "Cute scarf", "Good game yesterday", "What a beautiful smile", or "I read your homework...very interesting". Know their interests, know what motivates them, watch their sports games or whatever they participate in outside of the classroom. Take an interest in them in a genuine way.

In other words, listen to them. Once you listen to them, they'll listen to you.

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted December 22, 2009 at 6:47 PM (Answer #12)

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After many exhaustive hours exploring putting up innovative displays, re-organising my classroom and looking at my own delivery style I was guided to a simple way to find out what students found engaging in the classroom...I asked them. Some students pointed out that my beloved animated gifs on my Powerpoint presentations were distracting. They liked sitting in rows for individual work, but in groups when collaborating. They favoured a range of tasks in one lesson - some requesting to start with silent reading to 'settle down'. Not all of my classes raised the same points, but it was a useful exercise and I could utlilise most of their ideas. Also they felt empowered that they were directing their own learning, even by a small degree.

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cooperbemis89 | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 22, 2009 at 7:57 PM (Answer #13)

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I am teaching a very difficult class this year.  I have found that having actualy conversations with the students encourages them to want to be at school.  When I show an interest in their lives, they are more willing to attempt my request.  They also care more when they know me better.  Try to connect with the students.  Don't be afraid to let them see who you are and laugh with them often.

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yogibare09 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 23, 2009 at 3:39 PM (Answer #14)

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Taking a genuine interest in what each student does inside and outside of the classroom takes time, yet the dividends are invaluable.  One opportunity that I would encourage other teachers to embrace is to take on extra-duty assignments if those opportunities are available.  I believe that I have been able to connect with my students is due to my visibility on campus.  I am always at sporting events or attending performing arts functions.  Do not let excuses get in your way!  I bring my small children with me to these functions quite often because it gives students an opportunity to see me as a parent and a human being outside of the classroom, rather than as some robotic teacher.  It might mean having to "put yourself out there" a little more, but the reward far outweighs the risk.  My students always thank me for showing up and participating in these events.  It certainly does not hurt to use it as an opportunity to connect with their parents either.

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mflint | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 23, 2009 at 7:16 PM (Answer #15)

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I agree with most of what has been added to this discussion, in that students need to feel empowered in their own learning.  This along with setting goals and helping students achieve those goals is another way to get students more involved in their own learning. I also think that out standing Classroom Managment will help get students excited about their own learning. And I have found just such a program. It not only helps the teacher get motivated in their learning but it also empowes the teacher to direct the students. It is a win-win situation.  It really works.  I love this program because of what it did for my students, plus what it did for my teacher, but probably the thing I like the most, it is totally FREE. It was devloped by Chris Biffle.  Go to http://wholebrainteaching.com/

The only thing he asks if you use any of his materials is to share it with any other teachers you know.  This has really helped my own teaching and I highly recommend it.

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eblount | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 24, 2009 at 2:48 PM (Answer #16)

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Regardless of what grade level you teach, it is imperative that you build positive relationships with all of your students.  Students need to feel that their teacher is invested in them as a person, as well as a student.  Building relationships start on the first day of school and continue all year long.  Some students are more open to building relationships than other, however, you must try to reach all students.  I use a lot of ice breakers and get to know you activities at the beginning of the year and incorporate activities throughout the year.  I try and find out what is important to each individual student, what they like and what motivates them in life and in learning.  Attending sports events, plays or choral events of your students is also another way to build positive relationships.  I also get to know their parents/guardians and keep contact with them regarding their child.  Mailing birthday cards to their home is also another positive relationship builder.

Learning style assessments.  I assess each of my classes to find out what each student's individual learning style is.  After I complete the assessment, I make sure I varying my lessons to meet various learning styles.  If a teacher is constantly lecturing without any hands on activities, they will never interest a a students who learns best with hands on activities.  Students should also be given the opportunity to complete class projects according to their learning styles.

 

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carriebeatty4 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted December 26, 2009 at 7:44 PM (Answer #17)

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One of the best ways to get students to like your class is to get them to like your classroom.  You have to create an environment that welcomes them, and yet establishes order as well. 

I teach high school.  I have done this with simple things like adding tablecloths on my desk and book cases.  Exceptional student work is up in key ares of the classroom.  Posters and plaques of encouragement are displayed. 

But it isn't limited to an environment, you can create a welcoming atmosphere with your attitude.  Students, especially teenagers, do not liked being talked at.  We all know they tune you out.  Talk with them.  Ask for their opinions, ask for them to design the next unit with readings and writing assignments.  Find websites that allow students to share their work with others outside the school. 

 Value the contributions each student makes in their own way and you wil be on your way to reaching them. 

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aeanderson | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 27, 2009 at 7:44 AM (Answer #18)

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I would agree that creating a connection with your students is essential in creating a positive learning environment.  If you show that you care, then they will care more about learning.  I teach math primarily, and students tend to have a lot of anxiety about math.  I have found that creating an environment in which they can explore concepts to learn, they will.

I'm not under any delusion that all kids will be engaged all the time, but the more you connect, the more engaged they will be.  Let students explore and explain concepts on their own providing the necessary encouragement and assistance, and they will learn.  I would also agree with previous posts that the more excited the teacher is about the subject area, the more engaged the students will be.

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shoshana613 | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 28, 2009 at 6:02 AM (Answer #19)

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What is a good way to lighten the atmosphere so that kids will like being in class?

We teachers all know kid do not like listening to us. So what is a good way lighten up the room so they'll like being in class?

  I teach 3rd grade & one way to keep my students actively engaged is by calling on students randomly.  I do this by having their names written on popsicle sticks, and choose one each time I have a direct question. 

When students are organizing their materials for the day, I hand out notecards to specific students with questions that I will be asking that day.  These students are the ones, who when called on, typically say, "I don't know."  I find that it helps them to be prepared and are more likely to participate.  Therefore they enjoy being in class.

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mshargaden | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted December 31, 2009 at 6:58 PM (Answer #20)

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I try to make my presentations SHORT (no more than 3 min of talking before kids get a chance to turn and engage with another student to process the material.  1 min. bursts are ideal.) and SWEET.  I start each lesson with a story.  EVERY TIME.  Even if I can't think of a story to tell about the topic, I force myself to think of some way the content relates to real life.  I will even make something up so class can start with a one or two min story about real life, wither mine or some kid's, real or imagined.  Then I tie it into the teaching objective for the day, then model the lesson for the class.  I find that lighthearted, realistic stories and frequent opportnuities to turn and talk really keep kids engaged in listening.

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gwynner | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 3, 2010 at 6:21 AM (Answer #21)

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What is a good way to lighten the atmosphere so that kids will like being in class?

We teachers all know kid do not like listening to us. So what is a good way lighten up the room so they'll like being in class?

I have learned some of the best ways to keep students interested was to use groups or peer teaching.  This helps the students interested and usually more willing to participate in whole class discussion as well.  I used to do a lot of hands on activities when I had my own classroom.  That was also helpful.

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dwojick | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted January 5, 2010 at 6:41 AM (Answer #22)

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Sometimes the answer to getting kids to like class is to relate the subject matter to what they have going on in their lives;  to the things that matter most to them. Try to put yourself in their shoes... Make learning interesting, and dare I say it: FUN. At least make it less of a drag. And to do this, sometimes you need to wake the kids up with something unexpected. Think 'outside-the-box'.

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ruthahum | College Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 5, 2010 at 7:58 AM (Answer #23)

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What is a good way to lighten the atmosphere so that kids will like being in class?

We teachers all know kid do not like listening to us. So what is a good way lighten up the room so they'll like being in class?

One thing that will lighten up a classroom is laughter. Laughter is a good medicine. The students need to know that clean laughter is not a bad thing. So many teachers think that when they make a silly mistake that they are not to laugh at that mistake but hey, laugh at it and then maybe take a few minutes and talk about funny things that may have happened to you or others in the classroom. This is a nice little break from your teaching then after a few min. of some laughter then get right back into what you were teaching, this way the students will know when it is time to get refocused.

Another way to lighten up a classroom is to play some educational games with the students. I like to do games when I review for a test or just before I start the lesson. Doing these games will take the wiggles out and will lighten up the classroom.

Music is a fabulous way to lighten up the classroom. Play some easy listening or relaxing music while the students are studying. Studies show that playing soft music in your classroom relieve tension.

I hope these suggestions helped.

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phofmeister | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 10, 2010 at 7:20 PM (Answer #24)

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Have you ever heard of whole brain teaching?  That really keeps their attention...engaged and its a great way to use SDAIE strategies.....like "pair share", etc.  I have not read the other posts so forgive me if I repeated what someone else said :)

 

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rolf | Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 13, 2010 at 4:29 AM (Answer #25)

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What is a good way to lighten the atmosphere so that kids will like being in class?

We teachers all know kid do not like listening to us. So what is a good way lighten up the room so they'll like being in class?

First I would say, there is a difference between making a class room comfy and "make the kids listening". For the first (I am teaching in a private organization in Germany) I don't know if you or your class stay in the same room. If you do, you can add plants and books into the room and arrange the seats in a better way.

For second, I think, it is more that the teacher should listen to the students then the students to the teacher, for that of course, the students (as well as the teacher) have to be prepared for the lesson.

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rolf | Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 13, 2010 at 4:33 AM (Answer #26)

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What is a good way to lighten the atmosphere so that kids will like being in class?

We teachers all know kid do not like listening to us. So what is a good way lighten up the room so they'll like being in class?

And there is a technique I use often, that I have learned from TV. I make a short announcement what I will do the next time ;)

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lourdesrazo | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 13, 2010 at 8:31 AM (Answer #27)

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Start your class with a riddle or a joke of the day. Students will try not to be tardy to your class because they'll miss the joke. The internet has great joke sites. Also end the class with "good news" give students opportunities to share good news remember to always go first!
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ronagreen13 | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 14, 2010 at 1:47 PM (Answer #28)

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This question is going to get moved over to the discussion board since it really is that type of a question...  Anyway, there was a long discussion of why kids are bored, which addresses a lot of the same issues you're talking about.

http://www.enotes.com/enotes-teachers/group/discuss/do-you-know-why-most-students-really-bored-th-63595

In my opinion, you never get all the students to like being in class.  It's just not possible.  However, you can get more of them to like it more of the time.

I think there are two major things that impact this.  First, the teacher's personality -- how they come across to students.  If the teacher seems to care about the subject and the students, they'll tune out less.  Second, the way the lessons are made.  The more variety there is in a typical hour, the better.  A whole hour spent doing the same thing is not going to make very many students really like being in class.

So, I think teachers must show enthusiasm for their subjects and their students and craft lessons that have as much variety as possible.  But I also think teachers have to accept that there will be a certain level of lack of interest no matter what.

I agree and would like to add to this....The teacher needs to really care and be pationate about what he/she is teaching. Students pick up on this and will become excited too. If you show you care about every student and the material you are teaching, students usually respond.

Lesson plans need to be engaging and hands on. Students don't want to write notes for an entire period or do the same old same old. Notes can be made more exciting by using the Internet, pictures, etc. Relate the material in some way to the students' lives.

In addition, classroom management plays a huge role with students. They like routine and strict teachers, (even though they will never admit it!) Students really want to learn, and with good classroom management it is easier for teacher and student.

Teachers must also know that not all students learn in the same way. Lesson plans need to be geared towards many learning styles so students can choose from different activities to do in which they feel comfortable.

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julie710 | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 15, 2010 at 5:45 AM (Answer #29)

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I agree that classroom management is a big part of it, and including as much positive reinforcement as possible.  This doesn't necessarily mean giving them candy for paying attention, but really paying a lot of attention to those that are trying really hard or doing really well, pointing out the good when struggling kids are getting it, really emphasizing the positive as much as possible, while minimizing the negativity as much as possible.  Strictness and structure are very important, but being too strict can also create an atmostphere of fear and kids still won't contribute to class discussions!

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cameragirl24 | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 16, 2010 at 7:03 PM (Answer #30)

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What is a good way to lighten the atmosphere so that kids will like being in class?

We teachers all know kid do not like listening to us. So what is a good way lighten up the room so they'll like being in class?

Give the children choices so that they feel in charge of the situation. There will be less power struggles.

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robin1211 | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 17, 2010 at 1:24 PM (Answer #31)

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What is a good way to lighten the atmosphere so that kids will like being in class?

We teachers all know kid do not like listening to us. So what is a good way lighten up the room so they'll like being in class?

  I do lots of interaction with my kids, for example, when we do phonics, I've made some of the phonics rules into "cheerleader cheers" complete with motions.  This way they are active but on task.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 22, 2010 at 9:20 AM (Answer #32)

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Kids will only be as interested in the material as you are.  Develop a sense of humor for the topic.  Find interesting stories and sidelines for the curriculum.  Act foolish to get them to laugh.  Demonstrate through word and deed that you are in this with them, you are an ally not an enemy, and that you are designing the class so they can succeed with a little effort.  Vary voice tone, project, be the actor in the room who commands a spotlight.  Greet them at the door each day.  Teach bell to bell.

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brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 19, 2010 at 1:18 PM (Answer #33)

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Kids will never like or pay attention to something we don't also enjoy.  We have to sell it.  We have to be animated, and select both what we teach and how we teach it for high student interest potential.  If they aren't listening what's the point?

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clamo88 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 19, 2010 at 5:25 PM (Answer #34)

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When I ran the waterfront at a summer camp (many years ago), it was always difficult to get kids to pay attention to safety rules.  So I would put an instructor in the shallow bay and we'd act out her needing help.  I would yell out to the kids, "what should I do, what should I do?" And they would yell back to pick up the pole with the hook, etc.  Then I'd throw it in the water and they'd laugh and say, "No, you have to reach it to her."  And on it went, with me making mistakes and their corrections until I got it right.  We had a lot of fun, they got to see me be silly (and I was always very strict around the waterfront so it helped them not be afraid of me), and they learned safety rules.

Finding an age-appropriate way to engage with them is one key.  Sometimes it's in the your approach (humor, facial expressions, etc.) and sometimes it's in the tools you use to teach the lesson.

Project-based lessons can enable students of varying abilities and personalities to contribute to a learning outcome too.  That's a whole topic on its own though.

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besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted May 31, 2010 at 6:36 AM (Answer #35)

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I give my students choices. I feel that when they are given options they are more likely to participate and feel part of the classroom. There are so many different types of learners so it is important to offer many choices in order to keep everyone engaged.

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sensei918 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted June 17, 2010 at 11:25 AM (Answer #36)

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Teaching is like performance art. You have to grab the students' attention right away. I, too, like many of the others who are in on this discussion, don't believe that students don't like listening to us right off the bat. I don't think it is that difficult to engage their interest if you are interested in what you teach. Your passion will always come through. True, you are not going to reach every single student, but the more you engage and involve the class, the better your percentage of contributers will be. One way I do this in my Lit classes is to make the students teach each other. They get very competitive and try to outdo each other, and everyone wins.  I also like to bring in "guest" speakers sometimes. My colleagues and I trade out classes and teach each other's students something that we specialize in. It breaks up the monotony of hearing the same voice every day, arouses their curiosity, and provides fodder for class discussion on the day following the visitor's presentation.

We all want to be entertained, and who's to say we can't be learning at the same time? Think how much more interesting meetings would be if we used similar techniques with our peers!

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