With the lack of student engagement in the classroom these days, how can you encourage positive interaction between students in a natural way?
Promoting interaction in the classroom is a teacher’s goal. But with different backgrounds and perspectives that create a negative impact on how students interact, fostering a constructive connection between them has become a big challenge.
That may sound easy to think but is actually quite tough and sensitive to manage. Teachers need to determine the difference between different models of instruction and how students perceive this in their learning.
How Can You Encourage Positive Interaction Between Students?
A positive social interaction in the classroom helps develop logical reasoning and social communication. These aspects of learning are what would equip students with appropriate skills to be able to adjust in school, have a voice in the community, and deal with life.
Yet there seems a lack of push about teachers transferring important communication skills into practice in the classrooms. This includes non-verbal ways such as eye contact, facial expressions, use of touch, body language, distancing practices, and acceptable greetings.
There are students who naturally display poor interactive skills. There are also those who are confident or too confident in their conduct. While some individuals naturally develop suitable behaviors engaging them to interact with other people, those with behavioral disorders may struggle to obtain such abilities and the reason why they are having a hard time maintaining positive peer relationships.
This is where teachers and school staff come in – to provide adequate instruction and opportunities that inspire positive social connections between their students.
Here’s a guide on how to encourage positive social interactions between students inside the classroom:
Encourage and model constructive social approaches
Repetition of good actions inspires awareness of the other. It’s a demonstrative approach that imparts an emotion giving way for students to contemplate on the effects of righteous deeds. For example:
Voice volume and tone are friendly gestures. But some students may be perceived as being loud and boisterous because their voice reaches to those nearby. Their loud voice may be interpreted as reflecting anger or authority, when in fact they merely want to speak in a more dynamic manner.
Personal space needs to be respected, as well, as not everybody is quite comfortable standing closer to each other. Some may interpret others as being cold because they stand so far away. These slight postures may denote different meanings for different individuals.
Preferred greetings and acceptable body language also vary among cultural groups. Some group considers it rude and impolite to converse with one’s hands in the pockets, while others perceive it as confidence. It’s also offensive for some to point with one’s finger. Many American students do so and do not see it as impolite.
Being cautious about your body language, voice, and actions when interacting with students models behavior that they would want to emulate because their intentions are well understood. Can students use their hands a lot when speaking? Can they tell each other’s emotional state by facial expressions? Yes, and modeling this social approach demonstrates good manners that are acceptable to all.
Encourage conflict resolution skills
Conflict resolution skills require students to listen, check their emotions, share their perspectives, and understand a situation. Needless to say, this can be an extremely challenging step and will likely need more of your support before students learn to be independent.
Since role conflicts can become sources of strain, many teens may experience a cultural dilemma with exposure outside the home and family. Assisting them to work through these cultural differences will strengthen their own natural boundaries.
Teach about resolving personal conflicts in ways that convey respect for different individuals. A creative way is encouraging them to talk it out. Helping students express themselves and their intention helps them develop empathy that leads to being respectful of others, not be quick to judge, criticism and belittling of classmates and friends.
Understanding of self also encourages strong perceptions that free students from prejudice. This allows them to interact with others in a manner that appreciates uniqueness and differences. Your caring instructions will teach your students to see and recognize their personal issues, why they should being negative, and how to innovate various solutions.
Encourage cooperation through shared social norms
One reason why positive interaction is challenging in the classroom is because of undervalued cooperation. Students develop sociability when they learn to cooperate. But instead, they compete with each other for attention, status, or achievement.
You encourage cooperative learning when students are given tasks. Setting social norms or groups actively involves and engages students in teamwork. Participating is interactive. They get a deeper understanding of how cooperation makes them feel part of the group. Cooperative learning encourages collaboration which involves working together with peers toward a common goal.
Each student or member of the group has responsibilities and is held accountable for the assignment’s completion. Because success lies in how everyone works as a team, the process involves a collective effort for the best solutions.
The small-group activities, resolving conflicts and decision-making actions provide a sense of belongingness. As a result, it reduces the desire to compete against each other. The supportive and relational experience not only develop sociable skills but encourage social skills both individually and collectively.
Modify social skill interventions to cater to student needs
Have you encountered students telling you that if they can’t think and perform like their smarter peers, then what on earth is the point?
Some students doubt their ability to do well. To them, their mind is slow and burnt out to the point of being socially useless. They are haunted by desperate hopelessness and they doubt it if peers and teachers feel that too.
Adolescents have their own sub-culture which owns values, beliefs, and practices that may not be in harmony with others. Conforming to the prevalent choice of music, clothing, hairstyles, and fashion trends may be especially important to them to harmonize with peers.
Beyond all these physical requirements to connect, students also need to connect emotionally — especially in times of uncertainty and anxiety. Emotions are key to learning and there is a big difference when your students know that you are there for them.
Create a time to review some of the lessons you taught in class. This is especially helpful for those who are missing the classroom environment. Your giving time to catch up strengthens their being part of the class. Most importantly, ask each of your students how you can help them. In times of uncertainty and unknowing, the space you created might be one where students will need more.
Incorporate Fun in the Classroom
If playfulness is associated with positive outcomes for elementary students, shouldn’t the same be true for high school or college students? Utilizing a playful stance makes sense in encouraging positive social interaction between students.
Such opportunities help them explore and tackle complex problems creatively. The classrooms with this kind of learning are rigorously joyful places to teach and learn. Incorporating fun in the classroom reduces stress by having time to talk and laugh with classmates, explore and enjoy hobbies, happy exercising, singing, or music time.
Any entertaining activity used as a brief break or part of a lesson presents a positively reinforcing strategy that develops positive associations within the class and among the students.
Practice Communication Skills
Good communication includes empowering students to integrate more of what they have learned. Asking questions and discussing reservations or doubts is a part of this. Showing students how to listen to others and waiting to talk, taking turns in a discussion, signifying an idea, giving praise to others, saying thank-you, and saying sorry can be trained through role-play, games, and practice.
Employing a collective learning atmosphere. Integrating collaborative learning activities within the program encourages social interaction. The collaborative groupings will let students practice and observe correct social interactions with acquaintances.
The power of encouraging creativity. Applying various forms of media when teaching social skills sparks some excitement. This challenges their originality and eventually learn to contribute to different ideas. Media clips, for instance, teaches students to view and analyze the social interactions among the characters. Because they love this learning activity, they get to analyze better behavior selections.
Get parents involved. One way to encourage positive connections within students is by encouraging parents or guardians to collaborate in planning about what can be utilized both at home and in school. When children enter preschool programs, strong partnerships between home and school has shown a positive result that promotes learning at home.
Getting parental participation in the student’s social connections set a higher level of self-esteem. It’s a great way to promote positive family relationships and extend the positive social behavior into the classroom. At the same time, teachers can help family members appreciated as well as their important roles in children’s learning and development.