There is little more frustrating for a teacher than a disengaged, demotivated student. Often disruptive to the extent that they frequently disturb the rest of the class, disengaged pupils are the source of much misery and feelings of failure amongst those who teach them.
We all recognise the signs of a disengaged pupil – the refusal to join in with other students and the seeming inability to complete or even start tasks or homework, often coupled with disruptive behaviour – and know this can affect the future success of not only the disaffected student but also their peers.
What can teachers do to turn the student around? Aside from acknowledging the cause of the problem, are there certain strategies that will enable you to make a positive change?
The first step in attempting to help a disengaged student is discovering the reasons behind the behaviour. Most of these are pretty obvious – and unfortunately quite common. They include a complex or abusive home life, lack of friends, feelings of failure associated with low grades and low expectations of success, and overall low self-esteem.
According to Education Week, many young people feel that they don’t matter enough to their teachers and schools as a whole. This perception of low self-worth translates into feelings of futility and a lack of willingness to try for fear of failure.
What can be done?
There is no one strategy that will overcome these issues, of course. Every child is different, every situation unique, and every teacher has their own techniques; however, the main strategy should be to establish a good relationship with the student involved. Finding out more about them, their likes and dislikes and their feelings about themselves will help you as a teacher to come up with ways to engage their interest.
Above all, the advice is not to get frustrated and not to chastise; instead, praise the student at every opportunity and offer support where needed in whatever form this may take.
The environment in which students are taught has a role to play in engaging their attention and creating harmonious, productive environments. Bespoke education buildings, such as those supplied by http://www.educationspaces.co.uk/, can help to create a positive learning environment for all concerned.
We may never be able to get through to every disengaged student, but we can certainly try.