6 Tips For Keeping Your Students Engaged in Class

The image of the bored, half-asleep, daydreaming teen sitting in a high school classroom is all too familiar for teachers. Most teenagers seem to treat school days like a prison sentence. A recent poll found that the top two words teenagers most associate with school are “bored” and “tired,” and this probably isn’t all that surprising. With schedules that are often packed with difficult classes, homework, and extracurricular activities, teenagers likely find sitting in a desk for hours a day to be pretty low on the excitement scale.

As teachers, the task of keeping students interested and engaged can often feel like a steep challenge. Teachers are competing with endless distractions, sleepiness, and a general lack of motivation. It may be a challenge to find new and inventive ways to help form a more positive view of the school experience for students, but it is a worthy challenge nonetheless. By implementing a few new engagement techniques, teachers may be able to encourage students to be more engaged in class and to put an end to that prison sentence.

Make Relevant Connections

One of the best ways to get teenagers interested is by talking about the things they know and care about, whether that’s pop culture, music, or television shows. For example, creating an English lesson around crafting tweets from the characters in the class novel could be a fun, new way to approach looking at the text. Making references to pop culture within the lesson, or even opening up the floor for student input and feedback about how the class material relates to their everyday lives, could make way for lively conversation.

Some teachers who use Power Point put related memes or GIFs in their presentations to break up the information and maybe get a laugh or two from the otherwise weary students. By tying in things the students enjoy engaging with outside the classroom, teachers may be able to foster more interest in the classroom.


Play Games

Teenagers like playing games, even if they might roll their eyes at first. There are tons of easy, classroom-friendly games that teachers can implement into just about any lesson in any subject to help keep students on their toes and interacting with one another. One go-to game is throwing a beach ball around the room to choose who will answer the next question. Or, write questions on the colored sections of the ball, and whichever section the catcher’s thumb lands on, they have to answer. Create a game of Jeopardy made out of questions from the study guide for an upcoming test and split the class into teams to play. Since many students are grade-driven, consider offering an extra point or two on an assignment to the winner(s).

Work in Groups

Group work is an easy, fail-safe way to get students moving around and talking. Students can be broken into groups to work on any number of assignments, from answering complex discussion questions, to creating a presentation on a textbook chapter to teach to their classmates. If students are particularly disengaged when it comes to class discussion, try putting them into small groups of 3-5 and giving them a set of questions on index cards. Challenge them to spend 5 minutes discussing each question, and ask them to be prepared to share their thoughts with the class. By giving students time to bounce ideas off of one another in a smaller setting, they may feel more prepared to share those ideas to the larger class afterwards.

Four Corners

Using the space in the room is a great way to get students on their feet, rather than sitting stagnantly through a lesson. Four corners is an activity in which the teacher will label each corner of the room with an answer of sorts (for example, the corners might be “strongly agree,” “agree,” “disagree,” and “strongly disagree,”). Then, the teacher will ask questions and/or make statements and ask students to move to which corner of the room they identify with. Once in their chosen corners, students can discuss why they chose that corner. Not only will the activity get students out of their seats, it will also require them to make a conscious and critical decision about what they think about the material of the lesson.

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Use Technology

If there is any kind of technology available in the classroom for students and/or teachers to use, teachers could try implementing it into a lesson plan. With some schools around the country moving to one-to-one technology (one device per one student), there are more and more opportunities to incorporate these devices in the learning process. Since most teenagers are nothing short of glued to their tech, using it in the classroom could definitely help keep them more interested in the material. Online platforms like Kahoot! can be used to create interactive quizzes and polls that students can participate in from their own devices, giving them a bit of agency over how the lesson unfolds and what they get out of it.

Participate and Learn With Students

Just because the teacher is in the front of the room doesn’t mean there isn’t anything they can learn from their students. Rather than maintaining an entirely authoritative position in the classroom, teachers can participate in projects, share their own experiences and interests, and get to know their students’ interests. Asking students questions about the things they’re fluent in can make them feel as though the things they care about are interesting and what they have to offer is valuable.

Further Reading

For more ideas and tips, check out the links below.


  1. chad hopers

    May 24, 2017 at 6:30 am

    I love your post! This is very helpful. I teach at a college in Newtown, only one night a week but I’m always looking for more opportunities to make myself a better teacher. I found you had a lot of options for you to teach and help create content for teachers. I think we’re going to live in a world where teachers and educators get together to make everyone better.

  2. crazyonweb

    June 7, 2017 at 6:25 am

    These tips are very helpful to those who find classrooms boring and use to engage with cellphones.These will help them learning easily and getting what teacher want to teach.

  3. Amelia Roster

    June 19, 2017 at 3:42 am

    These are a great set of tips and ideas to enhance student interest and participation inside classrooms. Especially effective is the first point about using present-day pop culture figures and topics of mainstream interest (such as sports or fashion) to explain something in a particular subject. Group study and teamwork is another effective means to stimulate student interest.

  4. Winnie Akinyi

    June 21, 2017 at 3:47 am

    Your post is definitely worth reading for every single teacher. I like the ideas for four corners making students to be mobile during the class and not just sit during the whole class session. The games are also worth incorporating into a class session.

    Thank you for this post.

  5. Mariya

    July 6, 2017 at 1:03 am

    Continues lectures may make students so bored. So the teaching needs attractive way. The 6 tips you suggested, may help to change the way of teaching. That will not the make the students tired and bored. So the teaching will be more effective too. Thank you for 6 amazing tips.

  6. New York Academy

    July 26, 2017 at 10:36 pm

    Awesome Post! Your content gives insightful information. These ideas will be very useful to enhance students’ interest. Similarly, American preschools are the early learning centres which develop essential life skills in childhood.

  7. Ashmita

    August 7, 2017 at 2:30 am

    Loved your post. It is very useful and effective. Managing a class is one of the biggest challenge for teachers and the tips shared are really helpful. Thank you!!:)