As teachers know, students learn best when they engage—when they focus their attention, invest effort, and resist distractions. However, eliciting students’ engagement can be challenging.
In some cases, the barriers to engagement are outside the teacher’s control. For example, students may have trouble focusing if they come to school tired or hungry or scared.
Fortunately, in many other cases, teachers can create conditions that build students’ engagement. For example, students are more likely to engage if their teachers can help them:
- feel welcomed, supported, and appreciated in class
- understand that their teachers want to help them grow as learners
- believe that the work they’re doing in class matters for their lives
In short, teachers can take a variety of steps to create motivating learning conditions that foster engagement—to create a classroom climate in which students are more eager to learn and more receptive to feedback.
Teachers create ideal learning conditions for students in much the same way that a gardener creates ideal “growing conditions” for plants. An expert gardener carefully adjusts the levels of shade, water, and soil composition to match the unique needs of the plants a given garden.
Following a similar logic, teachers can ask their students targeted questions to understand how their students experience their class. Then they can adjust their practice in order to create a more optimal environment for their students to thrive as learners.
Indeed, when PERTS helped teachers use targeted questions to better understand students' experiences, those teachers got important insights that enabled them to markedly improve the motivational learning conditions in their classes. You can read some case studies at perts.net/stories.