How to hook ‘em in

First impressions are important. Opinions are formed quickly.

The start of lessons in classrooms are equally vital. If you begin by standing up and saying “today we’re going to learn about x, y and z”, you can guarantee that three quarters of your audience will have tuned out by the end of the sentence, and the other quarter will be asleep.

Here are a few suggestions for how to grab their attention right from the start- without having to do a rehearsed song and dance.

1. Tell a story. There’s nothing like the power of an entertaining narrative. Anyone who’s shared a good ol’ tale around a campfire knows how enthralled people are when you’re captivating them with a story. The best part is- it doesn’t even have to be true!

2. Use humour. With the help of a hilarious joke, meme, GIF, piece of music or object, teachers know how captivating it is to make pupils laugh. It eases any stress or anxieties they may be experiencing and it bonds the class as a group. Ignite their curiosity, keep them chuckling and they’ll be eating out of your hands.

3. Activate prior knowledge. Only the most ignorant among us will make the mistake of assuming that what you teach to kids is something that they don’t already know. If you give them a chance to brainstorm a topic or concept and to share with the group what they think, as well as what they wonder, you’re acknowledging that people are not empty vessels that need filling.

4. Make it relevant. Use a video or real life objects or a question… do whatever it takes to show students how the content of this lesson connects with their life and with the real world. Use pop culture references and all the latest technology. Link to current affairs. Help them to see how the learning in one subject connects with the learning in all of the others.

5. Be creative. Throw the book out the window. Think outside the square. Get the students involved. Play games. Get inspired watching your colleagues. Try something different! Have fun!

What do you do to engage students from the outset?

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