Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Paying Attention

Recently, a teacher asked an educator group these questions:

“I am in a 6th-grade classroom. I have a couple of students who are not doing their work, and a student who will not focus in class, after being given multiple sensory items, and them either being lost or broken the following day. My question is: What have you found is a good way to get students to do their work, and what next steps would you take in order to get the student to focus in class?”

I would wonder why the students are not doing their work first. Is it too hard? (You may think it isn’t hard for them, but they may feel it is too hard, and rather than fail, they would rather not try.) Is it too easy? What is their learning style? (Can you give them choices to do an assignment in a different way?) Do they understand what is expected? If you know the cause of the behavior, you can try to figure out a way to motivate them. What motivates them?

For the student who won't focus, is the assignment too long? Can it be broken down into smaller tasks? Can you sequence the steps and have him check off each step as it gets completed?

Sometimes we try to solve a puzzle like this on our own, but it is okay to talk to the student and the parents about this. I would approach this as a team effort to solve a puzzle so that they don’t get defensive and shut down. Tell them you want to consider all suggestions and it is important that you work together so the student can be successful.

This will show the student that you consider their input valuable and that their feelings matter. It also shows that you care, and you want the student to be successful. They may have failed so much before that they don’t think a little more will matter. Your insistence on helping them may give them hope and a willingness to try harder.

Many parents will feel that you are implying that their student is lazy and just non-compliant. It is important that you keep those ideas out of the meeting. This will cause the student to shut down and become stubborn about learning. Explain that you believe that the student wants to be successful, but you are trying to find the key that will help this happen.

I truly believe that if you take the time to do this kind of investigation, you will be able to find a way to motivate these students and help them be successful in your classroom. It takes time and persistence along with an “I won’t give up” attitude.

Have you dealt with this in your classroom? What did you do? Please share.

Photo by Drew Graham on Unsplash

No comments: