This past year has presented a unique challenge for teaching that has truly never been encountered before. As a teacher in a regular classroom, you are able to control or at least observe the actions and behaviors of your students. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, teachers can often struggle to truly retain the attention of their classes. Teachers can only see a small box of your student, it is almost impossible to know that you have your student’s full attention at all times. Below are six unique ways to capture and retain your student’s full attention at all times.
1. Cut Back to Only What is Crucial
A part of you will be thinking that every part of your lesson is important! To an extent this is true, but unfortunately a child’s attention over a Zoom call is reduced even further than it usually would be in a classroom. Even though distraction is present at school through classmates, there are even more distractions at home. If there is too much ‘fluff’ or ‘fat around the meat’ of what you are trying to teach, students will drift off or lose focus and not retain the information.
2. Make ‘Eye’ Contact
Business journalist Steve Mirren details the importance of eye contact on Writemyx and Brit student. He says, “Even though actual eye contact is impossible over online platforms, it is important to look at the camera during live sessions or during recordings.” Although it may be tempting to look at your recording camera or screen while you teach, the most important aspect of teaching is maintaining connection with your students. Even though the only connection you can make is through a camera, this will retain your student’s attention and increase their capacity to learn.
3. Be Clear and Organized While Teaching
It is always extremely important to be clear and straight forward while teaching, but even more so over the computer where a student’s attention is so fleeting. Amy Harper from 1 Day 2 write and Origin writings has often stated that, “Students will seize any moment of ‘weakness’ where you falter to drift off and check out mentally.” Make sure that you write a concise lesson plan for yourself and stick to it. Try not to let your student’s wander off on tangents or get off topic yourself while teaching. Staying focused yourself will turn up mirrored in your students.
4. Set Clear Lesson Plans and Goals for Each Session
Following on from the previous point regarding organization, comes the ideal of lesson plans. Though you need to have your own personal lesson plan, but also provide them for your students. Lining out a clear three-point plan of ‘learning goals’ for your students will break up the lesson for students and give them goals of learning to reach each lesson.
5. Work in Breaks and ‘Check-In’ Points
Breaks are almost as important as the teaching segments, as they keep students’ attention captured and let students recuperate from the learning segments and re-focus. Individually check in with your students if you can, make sure that they are all on task and understand the content. Breaks and check-in points are key to maintaining your student’s focus during online lessons.
6. Be Commanding and Captivating
This one is the string that ties it all together. Lesson plans, planning, and organization are all crucial parts to building an effective online learning experience but can only be tied together with simple good teaching. Effective and productive teaching is the key that unlocks student learning and is what will truly capture your students attention. Though there are many aforementioned contributors to keeping student attention, the most effective way to keep your students captivated is to simply be captivating. Love what you do and do it well. Be creative, inventive, and teach your students to love what you are teaching as much as you do.
Being captivating and keeping student attention over the last year on online platforms has been incredibly difficult for teachers. A child or teenager’s attention span is short enough as it is, and online learning has not made that any easier. Hopefully, the above six tactics will be a stepping stone to improving online learning for not only your students, but make lessons more enjoyable for teachers as well!