What happens when students "check out" of the learning process? Is it an educator's job to re-engage them? If so, how can that be accomplished? This week, educator Brenda Dyck reflects on some ways to tackle the sticky problem of student disinterest. Included: Practical ideas from middle-level teachers, plus links to additional articles on the subject!
Disinterested students -- they are easy to spot! They meander into class, drop their books, and slide into semi-reclining positions at their desks. Indifference is written all over their faces -- and all over the work they do.
Meanwhile, teachers scratch their heads and huddle together, trying to make sense of the lack of pride and drive those students show. We wonder if motivation can be taught and we speculate on whether inspiring students is really part of our jobs.
All of us secretly hope that a tonic will be discovered to fix what ails those students; and we pray (outside of school, of course) that the disease is not contagious.
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Students check out of the learning process for a variety of reasons -- including poor self-esteem, being under- or over-challenged by the curriculum, turmoil at home, boredom, or illness. Most educators, however, are always seeking concrete ways to re-engage those disinterested students in the learning process. Following are some fresh ideas and words of wisdom I've gathered from my colleagues on the MiddleWeb Listserv.
Turn Their Weaknesses Into Strengths
Engage Students in Participation
A Thought to Ponder"The educational equivalent to location, location, location,' is motivation, motivation, motivation,' for motivation is probably the most significant factor educators can target in order to improve learning."
That quote, written by Diane Walker in "The Art and Craft of Motivating Students," reminds me that motivating my students is more than a good thing to do it actually is part of my job.
Make Sure Structures Are in Place
Meet Their Emotional Needs
Brenda Dyck teaches at Master's Academy and College in Calgary, Alberta (Canada). In addition to teaching sixth grade math, Brenda works with her staff in the area of technology integration. Her "Electronic Thread" column is a regular feature in the National Middle School Association's Journal, Middle Ground. Brenda is a teacher-editor for Midlink magazine.