Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Teaching: 3 Opinions on “Tackling Student Apathy"

We as a society can’t truly address the issues facing schools until we make a serious effort to tackle the issue of student apathy. Many students are struggling in schools due to a lack of engagement.

Apathetic students do not pursue due dates or appreciate the significance of obtaining an education. They simply don’t care. They may be overwhelmed with the class assignments, their home life, or other commitments in and out of school.

If a parent acts like education is unimportant at home, or if he or she is unable to help his or her child become a successful student, the child tends to become apathetic toward formal education.

1. After speaking to colleagues about this major problem, we determined that student apathy could be caused by a lack of connection between the student and the classroom or the teacher. It is imperative that teachers and education support staff make personal connections with students outside of class in order to increase engagement.

We should support our students with their extracurricular activities, and show that we’re excited about their passions. In order to avoid apathy building among students, educators need to ask students about their passions and goals, and incorporate these into their lesson plans.

Productive, respectful, and trustworthy relationships are essential for students’ success, and teachers must take time to get to know or interview their students. Keeping the interests of students in mind as we go about our daily lives and actively searching for opportunities to connect with them can make a difference.

In my classroom, I take the first five minutes of most class periods to make connections with students by talking to them about their ideas, opinions, passions, and interests. We usually have amazing conversations about music, sports, and their extracurricular activities.  

During this time, I often share video clips or articles about student passions and interests. This shows that I listen to all of my students, and that I encourage them to share their lives with the class.   

2. Since there is a relationship between economic advantage and student performance, students of disadvantaged households are more likely to develop feelings of apathy. This is a major problem facing our institution, especially as 20 percent of American children are living in poverty.

The high level of achievement required of all students—including students of poverty—places a lot of pressure on schools. Our school, for example, provides students of poverty with a free or reduced priced breakfast and lunch in order to improve their health and nutrition, which can in turn enhance their learning.

We also provide free tutoring to at-risk students after school and during the summer in addition to free counseling to students and parents in need of guidance through social workers. If the student’s family cannot afford a field trip or an educational resource, our school will cover the cost.

We have a school-wide process for monitoring student academic progress and planning interventions. These interventions can include additional instruction time, modified assignments, and daily agenda checks.  

In addition to creating a learning environment where students feel safe and welcomed, teachers should also advocate and search for funding opportunities that support health, tutoring, counseling, and intervention programs. Teachers need to provide students with an abundance of learning opportunities in order for them to be successful and boost their self-esteem.

3. One of the biggest challenges I face in my job is the number of students in my classroom. Since state funding for schools has been cut, our class size limits have been lifted.

This makes it more difficult to give each student the individual attention he or she needs and deserves. I have donated numerous hours of my time to help my students before or after class, especially if they return to homes where their parents do not help them with homework.

We must focus our energy on empowering all students to work together, care, and understand the importance of obtaining a quality education. I give my students partnership of our classroom by requesting their constructive and timely feedback through technology tools such as Survey Monkey, Twitter, and Edmodo, which can be found on our classroom website – mrlerchenfeldt.weebly.com.  

Students today crave technology whether it is videogames, Smartphones, iPods, and social networks. As an educator, I recognize that technology is the key to gaining student interest in the content being taught in my classroom, and I am using a SmartBoard, response devices, and various online resources to engage and formatively assess students.

I am consistently striving to learn about new technology to utilize in my classroom in order to give students more individual attention. For more tips, please read my post – Teaching and Technology: 4 Strategies for “Flipping the Classroom”.