John Hayes, Eagle River, WI, email@example.com
Sometimes as educators our lessons can be engaging, rigorous, relevant, and purposeful, but we still end up with a student that just does not want to put any effort into the class. We have done the usual things such as contacted the parents, conferenced with our PLC, and had long discussion with and about the student. What are some suggestions that might engage that student?
- Incorporating movement – It is hard to give our best effort day in and day out especially when we have to sit for an entire day. Start your lesson with movement that includes discussion during that movement, to get students engaged mathematically.
- Creating relationships – With some students you can create a relationship during class but with others you need one-on-one time to really get at what is going on in the student’s life. How about you and the student take a Walk and Talk?
- Goal setting – Set small behavior goals for that student “I’m going to check your notebook every day to make sure you are giving an honest effort with the classwork. Here are some of the things I would like to see when I check your notebook…”
- Make them accountable – I like to make these students the salesman during a Traveling Salesman. By giving the same sales pitch over and over they become proficient at their sales pitch. Maybe they even become an expert! Later in the course when that topic comes up, they will remember their sales pitch and engage in the conversation.
- What are their strengths? – Use the Pick Three strategy to help their teammates value the student’s participation. As an educator, if you use your professional noticing and pick up on the student’s strength, you can show other students the value of that strength.
- Give their thinking value and as a result, give them status as a math student – When circulating through the teams ask this student a question and after they respond, ask other teammates to reflect on their thinking. This sends the message that the student’s thinking is valuable to the team. Ask them to repeat what they said and ask teammates to respond. If this student cannot answer the question then tell them you will give them a few more minutes to talk with their team and you will come back for their answer. Nine out of ten times the student will ask the team to explain it to him/her and be able to answer when you return. Over time this can build student confidence and students may choose to engage even when not pressed.
- Pay attention to status in the classroom – Which students have higher status and which students do not have as much status? If the disengaged student has less status find ways to assign status to that student (make them the Facilitator, support them through pre teaching the vocabulary of the next section in the book so they can bring value to the conversation, ask them to share their work or thinking with the entire class.)
- Mindset Monday – some students think there is a math gene and they do not have it. Use videos, quotes, and strategies from Jo Boaler youcubed.org and other sites to get ideas for promoting a growth mindset.
- Address the unproductive beliefs listed below that the student may have about mathematics:
- Students can learn to apply mathematics only after they have mastered the basic skills.
- The role of the teacher is to tell students exactly what definitions, formulas, and rules they should know, and demonstrate how to use this information to solve mathematics problems.
- The role of the student is to memorize information that is presented and then use it to solve routine problems on homework, quizzes, and tests.
- An effective teacher makes the mathematics easy for students by guiding them step by step through solving problems to ensure that they are not frustrated or confused.
- Mathematics learning should focus on practicing procedures and memorizing basic number combinations.
- Students need only learn and use the same standard computational algorithms and the same prescribed methods to solve algebraic problems.