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5 Special Words to Use in Your Classroom to Skyrocket Engagement Rates

Updated: Jun 17, 2023

Picture this: it's Monday morning. You're standing in front of your classroom, eager to dive into today's lesson. But as you scan the room, you see a sea of glazed eyes and stifled yawns. Sound familiar?

Keeping a classroom full of young minds engaged is a task that can make even the most experienced educators break a sweat. How can you grab your students' attention and keep them interested in the material? The answer may be simpler than you think.

Behavioural science - the study of why we act the way we do - tells us that certain phrases can spark interest, evoke curiosity and promote a sense of belonging. That's right, a simple tweak to your language might just be the secret ingredient to boosting your classroom engagement.

Intrigued? Let's dive right in!

1. The Power of "Imagine"

Imagine. Let's talk about the phrase "Imagine." This term is not just a golden nugget in creative writing, but it's also a gem in the classroom. Why, you ask? It's all down to its ability to unlock the world of visualization.

When we ask someone to 'imagine,' it tickles the creative part of their brain. It stirs up ideas, emotions, and scenarios that they can personally relate to. In a nutshell, "Imagine" can act as a passport to a universe of ideas, connecting abstract concepts to tangible images. So, the next time you're teaching a complex concept, try leading with, "Imagine if you could never fail." and watch the light bulbs go off!

2. Swap "Why" for "What" or "How"

Who would have thought a small tweak in questioning could make such a big difference? Instead of reaching for "Why" questions that may leave students feeling defensive, switch gears and use "What" or "How."

Consider this: instead of asking, "Why did you draw that conclusion?" try "What led you to draw that conclusion?" or "How did you come up with that?" According to behavioural science, these types of questions stimulate reflective thinking, creating a space for students to understand and articulate their thought processes.

This shift takes the pressure off and encourages a more productive and open dialogue.

3. "And" is the New "But"

We've all been there: we hear some praise followed by the word "but," and we instantly brace ourselves for the critique. To avoid this, swap out the "but" with "and."

Instead of saying, "I like your enthusiasm, but you need to let others speak too," try, "I like your enthusiasm, and I would love to hear from some of your classmates as well." Behavioural science shows that using "and" instead of "but" fosters a more positive tone and encourages constructive feedback. It's a simple change that can significantly increase engagement.

4. Unite with "We" instead of "Me"

Nothing creates a team spirit like the term "We." It instantly conjures up a sense of togetherness and shared responsibility. In the classroom, swapping "Me" for "We" can create a more inclusive atmosphere.

By saying things like, "We can solve this problem together," instead of "Let me show you how to solve this," you allow students to feel more involved and invested in their learning process. Behavioural science tells us that this kind of inclusive language nurtures a collective identity and shared responsibility, ultimately boosting classroom participation and engagement.

5. The Comforting "I Know..."

Lastly, but by no means least, we have the powerful phrase "I know..." These two words may seem simple, yet they can have a profound effect on your students' engagement. "I know..." validates their feelings and experiences, creating a sense of empathy and understanding.

Empathy can significantly improve communication and understanding. When students feel understood, they are more likely to participate and engage in learning. So, instead of saying, "You need to try harder," try, "I know this is challenging." This approach creates an empathetic connection that encourages students to share their thoughts and difficulties, leading to a more engaged and interactive classroom.

So, there you have it, five special phrases that have the power to transform your classroom engagement.

They might seem small, but remember - even the smallest changes can have the most significant impact.

By incorporating these phrases into your daily interactions, you are creating a learning environment where students feel comfortable, involved, and excited to participate.

So, go ahead, give them a try and watch the magic happen in your classroom.

Happy teaching!

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