When it comes to the idea of student engagement, the task lies both in the hands of the teachers and in the students themselves. Both parties need to find new ways to be intellectually stimulated in the classroom setting — which isn’t always a hotbed for activity.

Patrick Dwyer Merrill Lynch understands that some instructors aren’t exactly spectacular orators. It’s almost as if some of these people have spent their entire lives with their noses in their books, or confined to small rooms. Oh, wait, that’s exactly how most teachers have spent their entire lives — so let’s not be too hard on our teachers.

Instead, let’s figure out some ways that both teachers and students can become engaged.

Teachers should be willing to learn and sometimes students should be willing to teach. And, just like students strive to get the “A,” in many cases teachers likely strive for some sort of justification for what they’re doing — and not all of them are in it for the ludicrous sums of money that teachers make. Wait again, do you mean to suggest that teachers aren’t millionaires? So what would a teacher maybe crave? Maybe to see a student succeed. Maybe to have a student come up to them at the end of the semester and let them know that their class made a difference.

The point here is we could all do a little more and work together a little more effectively.

To stay engaged, teachers should refresh when it comes to the material. For instance, if you’ve been teaching Beowulf the same way since the 80s, maybe it’s time to read the literary work again (maybe along with some contemporary criticism) and look for some parallels that fit today’s world. Assuming that even instructors do some amount of growing up during adulthood, it’s also fair to say that they might have a different reaction to that same material they’ve been teaching, and maybe this new point of view can bring something new to the table. Bringing something new to the table is a great way to make an impression on students, all of which assume they’re entering a stuffy classroom.

Not so fast, students. There’s stuff you can do to ensure you’re getting the most out of your classroom time, too. It’s no secret that time flies when you’re having fun, but time also moves exceptionally slow when you’re out there being bored. And being bored is sometimes your fault. It’s your job to keep yourself entertained in this life. Being engaged in the classroom makes things more enjoyable for the instructor and for your fellow students.

So how does a student stay engaged? Well, if you’re not getting something, ask a question. Don’t be afraid to ask what you think is a dumb question, either, because most of the time your instructor will be happy to answer — and it also takes the pressure off of them to constantly come up with things to say. They can listen to you and respond, instead of living so much inside of their own head. Be respectful and understand that your teacher is trying to leave you having learned something. You can also look for ways to apply what you’re learning in your own life, which will make the information all the more valuable!

Practicing some of the measures mentioned above will increase student and teacher engagement in the classroom and beyond, which will glean better results in the real world and on the job site. Here’s to hoping we all learn something new today!

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