The following article was recently published in the March issue of The Piano Bench Magazine, a magazine I highly recommend. It is an app you can find in the iTunes Store or GooglePlay Store and read from your mobile device.
Engaging our students can sometimes feel overwhelming especially when a teacher might be feeling a bit burned out. But did you know that when we truly engage our students in their learning we can also be engaged in our teaching? And visa versa. This is because students respond more positively when they are interested and engaged in what they are learning. That positive energy can return back to you and create a cycle of engagement that both the teacher and the student want to be a part of.
So what exactly is engaged learning? Engaged learning is when students are actively participating in their learning. So how do we establish a more engaging learning environment? Honestly, that is a loaded question. So much so, that I created an entire course on the subject, but for the purpose of this article I will narrow it down to 5 things that you can do right away that will help.
Understand and Get to Know our Students
What makes them tick? What are their interests, what do they want to learn? What makes them excited to come to lessons or go to school or just wake up? Every year I give my students a “getting to know you” sheet for them to fill out. I have both music and non-music related questions. I love reading their answers and seeing how they change year after year. I love asking them about their interests and briefly chatting with them and seeing if I can apply anything I learn about them over to their lessons to engage them even more.
Become a Facilitator
A facilitator is one who guides students towards their goals. Isn’t this what our ultimate goal in teaching music is to teach in a way where we are more of a facilitator guiding students in their music making process?
Allow Students to Actively Participate in Their Learning
This means allowing them to talk, to discuss, ask questions, give input, share ideas and collaborate. The list can go on and on. This allows students to create relevancy to what they are learning.
If the trust isn’t there, the student is not going to engage. Students need to know that they aren’t going to be judged on incorrect notes or compared to other students. They need to know that when they walk in the door that they are walking in to a safe environment to a teacher who truly cares about them and their musical needs.
Yes, it is okay to have fun with our students. Play games with them, laugh often, plan enjoyable activities, create “out of the box” invitations to learn, change things up every once in a while.
These are just some simple highlights on some of the things you can do to help create a more engaging learning environment with your students. A quote from “Hattie” that I love, “The key is that the teacher takes a highly proactive role in driving the learning process forward”.
How do you create a positive environment for your students when you are just not feeling it that day? Why do students keep forgetting concepts you are teaching? How can you check for understanding and engagement? I answer those question and SO much more in the new online course, Activate Your Brain: Engaged Learning Strategies that Work! 4 hours of video modules and over 30 ways to check for understanding and engagement is only a part of what you will find inside. Included as a bonus is a growing bundle of supporting PDF’s that you will be able to use with your students as well! The course does not expire so you can take your time in completing the modules. Join me today! Register below.