Tips for Teachers & Tutor: How to Gain and Maintain the Attention of Your StudentsSeptember 13th, 2012 by Isa
The most common reasons students fail to pay attention (both in class and during their tutoring) is because they believe the lesson is dull or that it does not apply to them. Students have to be convinced that what is being taught directly relates to them.
Here are some tactics that will help gain and maintain the attention of your students.
Teach Lessons through Storytelling
Storytelling, regardless of genre or presentation, is one of the most efficient methods a teacher or tutor can use to effectively capture the attention and imagination of students. The strongest aspect of good storytelling is that it engages an audience. Just like at a movie theater or in a novel, in a classroom the mystery - wondering what will happen next - should have listeners paying rapt attention until the outcome is established.
Teaching through stories is effective for many reasons. For students, it creates a memorable context which allows them to link their thoughts and emotions to the (layered and hopefully not too obvious) lesson.
Students' curiosity can be 'sparked' in a number of ways (for instance, storytelling, as mentioned above). Curiosity, as with mystery, is established by not revealing the answer, outcome, or most interesting information upfront. By retaining key information until near the end of the lesson plan, you create a compelling reason to pay attention. And there's a bonus peer pressure factor - nobody likes to miss out on something that everyone else knows.
No one wants to be talked at for any significant amount of time. It makes listeners feel smothered and insignificant - if they aren't expected to have an answer, thought, or reaction then what's in it for them? Lectures, rather than conversations, make students feel that they have no part in the topic, and therefore they will lose interest.
After some time, hold a discussion with students. Ask them their questions or thoughts. Many students have a difficult time raising their hands to ask questions. To them it is an admission to their classmates that they don't understand something. Instead, hold a group discussion. If the topic is mathematics, encourage participation by phrasing questions like this: "Ok. I may not have explained everything in a way that everyone understands. So, what did I miss?"
Communicate Why It Matters
It's important to explain the "real life" application of a topic you are about to teach. With the ubiquity of Internet access, students have - literally - all of the knowledge ever produced at their fingertips. But, they don't know how to use that knowledge in their lives, now or in the future. When you are imparting knowledge about algebra, for instance, examples of how students will use that to balance a bank account or understand a financial report are very important.
Finally, don't overlook the importance of enthusiasm! A teacher's enthusiasm and positive energy is contagious to students.
Lauren Atwell is a freelance writer based out of Dallas, Texas,