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Engaging Learners: So how do YOU do it?

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Arnie Skelton, Managing Director, Effective Training & Development Ltd

BEAR with me….

     I bet you continue reading this….

     I’m right, aren’t I?…

                 others may have given up, but I knew you wouldn’t….

                                    There! You made it! I knew you would! Thank you.

Engaging Learners:

So – how do YOU do it? Do any of the following apply?

Magic tricks juggling telling jokes powerful personal stories debilerate mitsakes playing games asking questions competition music movement drawing letting them lead even $%*!…

…and have I left anything out?

Can you make sense of this – maybe even complete it?

Creative crossword Arnie

Great, I think, as a Growth Mindset exercise….

Or how about this: connect all 9 dots using only four straight lines, without taking your pen off the page:

Dots Arnie

Great, I think, for thinking outside the box….

Or….for those who are of a more auditory bent….

Can you hum the tune to the song which has the following first line:

“On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair…”

Or solve this puzzle: what image is next is the sequence?

Sequence Arnie

Great for lateral thinking, I think…

Are you FASST enough?

All humans – and that of course includes learners – love to be engaged. And hate not to be. So I think to successfully engage most learners, most of the time, you need to be FASST:

Frequent: attention spans are often low – you can re-energise frequently, to re-focus and re-engage (did you notice the repetition of hyphens there…?). You’ll find (or may already have discovered) that QUESTIONS are brilliant for grabbing and refocusing attention. For example: what’s the colour of your front door? I think that question will have produced two certainties…..

—1) you answered the question

—2) you almost certainly weren’t thinking about your front door before the question…

Attention grabbing: it almost doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it does the job…of GRABBING ATTENTION – or even GBGNIBRA TENATONTI. It’s a means to an end, not an end in itself….

Surprising: obvs. Not boring. Not predictable. Not the same as before.

Shorrt: (yes I know….thought you’d notice…). Attention grabbed, move on.

Totally inclusive: (OK – you think of a better word for ‘T’ and that carries an important message…) – so you ought to ensure everyone has a chance to be engaged – so vary it up…and given there are no other rules, and they are quick and regular, you should be able to suit all tastes over a relatively short period

And ….

are you more likely to remember FASST because:

  • it’s not the ‘correct’ spelling of the word….
  • ‘T’ is for two words not one

And both the above are unconventional, which also makes things

stand out. (or even…outstanding)

At the beginning of this SH__T article I asked you to BEAR with me. That’s because I have a toolkit of 88 such attention grabbing devices, under the title of Building Engagement, Attention and Recall…(bet you can’t guess which animal is pictured on the front…!) (OK, you can….) 

Arnie Skelton, Managing Director, Effective Training & Development Ltd

Email Arnie for more details, and / or for the answers to today’s puzzles, to hear more from Arnie subscribe to his podcast series “Top Ten Tips for Teachers and #FE Managers the Podcast Series” or visit his Newsroom on FE News.

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