There are many strategies to use when developing a lesson plan to build rapport and maintain student engagement. If students do not seem particularly responsive to certain questions and activities, we’ve outlined some strategies that may help.

Give Choices

  • Giving a few possible answer choices makes your questions more specific, so that students will know how to answer.
    • Large group example: Ask students to vote by raising their hands for which answer they think is correct and have students discuss why they chose that answer
    • Small group example: Ask them to each explain their reasoning for the answer they chose as correct

Alternative Communication Accommodations

  • Using images or other methods of communication is an effective strategy for students who struggle with communicating verbally
    • Large group example: Create “yes” and “no” or “green” and “red” signs for students to hold up and vote for the answer that they believe is correct
    • Small group example: Create a table of pictures for students to point to in order to communicate their answers


  • Building on students’ prior knowledge by starting with basic questions that students already know the answers to, then relating those answers to new skills you’re teaching
    • Example: To teach students about a job interview, start by asking “what is a question?”, “why do we ask questions?”, “how does asking questions help us get to know someone better?”, “why would someone at a job want to get to know you better before offering you a job?”

Smaller Steps

  • Breaking questions and activities down into smaller steps, similar to scaffolding, can help your student better understand the concept.
    • Example: When teaching about job interviews, you may start with a common question like, “can you tell me a little bit about yourself?” By breaking this question down into smaller steps, you can help the students identify that the employer wants to know about your education, work experience, and career interests rather than what they like to do on the weekend and other nonrelated topics.

Universal Design for Learning

  • Making sure that curriculum is accessible for all students by giving students a voice in how they learn new things
    • Representation: Present information in a variety of formats (videos, text, images, etc.)
    • Expression: Give students options for how they want to demonstrate what they are learning (PowerPoint, video, essay, etc.)
    • Engagement: Incorporate your students’ interests in order to motivate them (allow students to pick examples that are relevant to them)

Other Strategies for Maintaining Engagement

  • Rephrasing
    • Provide questions and instructions in different ways so that students can better understand them
  • Taking pauses
    • Allow wait time for your students to process the information and gather their thoughts before having them answer a question
  • Keeping a schedule
    • Provide students with a schedule for the day so they can know what to expect and what will be expected of them
  • Reflection
    • Incorporate a journal or student discussion in small groups for students to reflect on what they have learned