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Student Engagement – What’s Stopping You?

Hi,

In around ten days time, on April 1st, I'm going to run a series of private (free) webinars explaining some great ideas (and a very simple formula) you can use to raise student engagement in your lessons. Yes, yes, I know it's All Fools' Day but this isn't a joke I really AM going to do it! 🙂

The thing is, in order to make this as useful as possible I want to make sure I cover the things YOU want me to. So... if you're planning on attending any of the webinars (I'm going to run several to account for different time zones)... please leave a comment in the box below and tell me the following:

1. The ONE thing you struggle with most relating to student disengagement - i.e. is it the start of the lesson that's the problem or the whole lesson? Is it a certain topic that causes you most problems or is it a particular group of students? Is it a lack of resources or is it just that you struggle to make the topic interesting? Get the idea? Please put you most frustrating problem relating to student engagement in the box below.

2. What is the most annoying outcome arising from a lack of student engagement in your lessons? i.e. What are your students doing when they are not engaged? What are they saying? What effect is this having on you?

I look forward to reading your comments and seeing you on the webinar.

All the best,

Rob Plevin

52 comments
Sharon H says 23rd April 2012

One of the most important things a teacher can do with his/her students is get to know them. Find out what makes them tick. What strategy you use on one student might not work on another. Most importantly, your students need to know you care about them. They might have a behavior problem for several different reasons, but if you let them know you care it will be the beginning of a relationship where they start making a connection with you. Yes, they will try your patience, but you have to let them know you are glad to see them at school and praise them for anything you find them being successful at. I love the “Student Engagement Formula!” I have watched it 2 times. I love the secret student and the word, “curiosity” is the best way to get their attention. My teaching partner and I have a question tube. We put an object about the lesson in there and the students pass it around the room. They are allowed to ask one question, and it has to be a yes or no question. Since you only get to ask one question, the students are sure to listen what the others are asking so they don’t waste their only question.

Ani says 31st March 2012

My problem is with four eigth-graders who pretend to work but do nothing so their results are bad. I have tried to engage them in fun activities like games,crosswords,role plays,but only one of them shows interest and you know it is difficult to prepare all your lessons (usually six different claasses a day) while according to the educational system you should use a textbook. I haven’t given up but …Discipline is not a problem during the lessons.

Susan says 29th March 2012

My biggest problem is with a few students who have disengaged from learning. I am teaching reading to a small group of elementary pupils and infrequently come across a student who has already decided they don’t want the help, and don’t want to learn to read. Obviously, they have struggled with reading in the past or they wouldn’t be with me. I am very clear on my expectations, and am honest in telling them I know that they’ve struggled and have found reading hard, but that together we will improve their skills. I usually get full buy-in from my students, but there are always a small number that don’t want to participate. These students often try to get the other students in the group to join them in off-task behaviours, or in being disruptive. Any suggestions?

Jubilee says 28th March 2012

I am a trainee teacher, teaching level 1, 16-18 year old, the problem I have is engaging these students in the topics. what can I do to make them interested in their course work. When I lecture they clearly get bored, when I ask them to do group activities, they moan and do not want to put more effort to do their work. what can I do.

Katherine says 27th March 2012

I teach 7th graders. Most of the time when I am commenting on a particular concept, they want to make jokes. They don’t take anything serious. It seems like when I call their attention, they get quiet and won’t answer questions. Only the ones who always answer will speak. They are the ones who are sitting relatively close to the front or in the front. Homework? This is an element of surprise to these students. Many don’t do it and the ones who do, will turn in in quietly as if to be unnoticed. Many of them are walking around in their own worlds, and when I bring up something I have said to them, they don’t know what I am talking about. Please help! I know school is almost out , but I seriously need some help!

Mari says 27th March 2012

I teach middle school math (5th and 6th grade), single gender classes. Right now, I’m having the most trouble with differentiation. I have such a gap between students. It seems like the lower students are asking a lot of questions, and during the explanation, other students get off task or distract others. I feel like I spend all of my time re-teaching things that the brighter students didn’t hear because of side conversations or re-teaching the slower students while the brighter students are bored to tears.

My other problem is with the 6th grade boys. They love to fart and laugh at each other. They are always pointing at one another, showing me that the other boy is at fault, whether I’ve asked or not. I’ve made a “no pointing” rule, which has helped, but they are still distracting each other, just not pointing.

Thank you!

Pamela says 26th March 2012

I teach in an all-girl school, grade 2. I have difficulty with the super high and super low in Language Arts and Math. While I am still teaching the lesson I have a group of girls tell me they finished and the low girls just give up on me. I have told them that we don’t call out but it doesn’t seem to help. Then in science and social studies, ESL population, they don’t understand the words and some just tune me out. I have tried stopping in the middle of things to explain the words and this causes a wide range of stories all waiting to be told. When one tells a story I have 20 more hands shoot up to tell their stories, some related and some not. How do I keep them engaged and on track? I have to admit that some days it is very frustrating and my class is falling behind in the curriculum.

    Bob says 27th March 2012

    Just a thought, give them the key words – including words they don’t understand and let them explain the meanings/ find the meanings in pairs/small groups and then challenge them to predict the text. Hopefully they will be more motivated to discover whether they were right or wrong and how close they were.

fatima says 25th March 2012

I find it difficult to engage them at the start of the lesson and when I am rounding up the lesson.

alessandra says 24th March 2012

It depends on classes. The most difficult problem in my case is having them starting together. Classes in my region are becoming more and more talkative and louder; a lot of students find it difficult to raise hands before saying something and it is really hard to give an order to their participation

yuetching says 24th March 2012

Hmm…I just started relief teaching. I teach classes of 42 students as a substitute/ relief teacher covering for their teacher on maternity leave for a few months. They are streamed into a lower academic class, and generally are uninterested and rowdy/ do their own things. Can get scary, coz so far only had 1 lesson where they could hear my voice above the din, and they had half of the class absent during that day. Currently, can’t use technology eg. laptop to teach, coz sometimes the system doesn’t work. So I am gg to go back to worksheets and thinking of some games. The thing is they are too loud and do their own things. Have to get their attention somehow. One even sleeps in class, and smirks at me, saying he will wait until the trained teacher comes back.

Laura says 24th March 2012

I find it difficult to get them engaged on an activity specially on Friday and after brakes.

Lee says 24th March 2012

In today’s instant gratification and fast paced world, students expect to be entertained more than engaged. They don’t understand that you sometimes have to put effort into what you want to learn.

vale says 23rd March 2012

I face similar problems with my 6th and 7th graders. The thing is that they start school at 8:00 am and finish at 5:00 pm. I teach them English twice a week in the afternoon. I find it very difficult to get their attention at the biginning of the class and after the break.

Allison Appleby says 23rd March 2012

Hi Rob, I think my greatest issue is my final year students who have generally had “enough” and are completely unmotivated, even though they have their most important exams coming up in 6 months (I’m in Australia). They are a fairly low to average academic group and they think they are travelling ok, but realistically they will have fairly poor results. Whenever they don’t get something right or struggle with a concept, they like to blame their teachers for not teaching them, but they don’t put any effort in or take responsibility for their own learning. This is a class I have picked up this year and they are mid-course. Currently I have only found food to be a real motivator!
They are fine when I organise lessons where I do all the work, but are hopeless when I prepare lessons which involve them having to do the work eg processing information and applying knowledge. They can mindlessly copy notes, but this is a pointless activity (in my opinion) as they don’t demonstrate any understanding of the material.
In the past they had 45 min lessons, but have gone to 1 hour lessons this year. All the other students seem to cope with the longer lessons and I make an effort to try and provide 3 x 20 min lessons where possible or at least 2 x 30min activities with a mental break time. I teach science and always use practical activities where possible, however, in the senior years there is a lot of content to get through. I change how i present the material EG make a poster/ table/ mindmap/ model etc but the student’s work rate is very low! Do you have a secret “bomb” I can put under them to explode their motivation????

Bee says 23rd March 2012

After year 7 a lot of the middle and lower ability children hate learning foreign languages – they find it too difficult to remember, and seem unable to look back at notes and examples from the previous lesson. They do not seem to want to learn. Even when I play games, only some want to participate, the others want to chat or make paper aerplanes – often not engaged.

Allyson says 23rd March 2012

I have a class of 7th graders who cannot stay on task when I am giving them step-by-step instructions (computers). I go too fast for some and too slow for others. Then they get lost and everyone is calling my name for help. I usually have to give this group written instructions.

robplevin says 23rd March 2012

Thanks again for all the comments. I’ll just clarify that this webinar is on ENGAGEMENT and while I won’t be covering classroom managemnent specifically on this call, there will ovbviously be benefits in terms of behaviour – engaged students cause fewer problems. To those of you who are having a hard time with behaviour (I see a lot of comments above on this topic) we have a LOT of information which can help you on http://www.classroom-expert.com – just click on the ‘past webinars’ link. See you all soon.

BTW – you can now register for the ENGAGEMENT webinars this page: http://www.classroom-expert.com/how-to-increase-student-engagement-motivation/

Jesus says 23rd March 2012

The big problem is boredom. They get bored no matter what you struggle about to make it relevant and funny. Fortunately, not all the class is involved, but it is that small number of students who disrupt and spoil the lesson.
How can I engaged these students? I have tried different ways but they soon get tired of .

Hilary McLean says 23rd March 2012

I teach middle school art. My biggest challenge is that half the students don’t care for the topic, put in very little effort on their project, yell “I’m done” and then don’t want to do anything else. I provide filler activities, talk to them about what else they could do to go deeper with their artwork, but it just results in a waste of materials. Instead of being able to talk one on one with students about their work, I have to monitor, constantly cojole and control those who do not stay on task. I am ready to quit teaching, quite frankly. I used to teach science and because it was a core subject, it was taken more seriously. Students expect to be able to goof off in my class because it is their elective.

    Graham Single says 23rd March 2012

    I also find it difficult with students who don’t want to have a go and don’t perservere. I teach music and we are doing band instruments in year 9. As its only for a term they can’t really get through much but then if some the students actually practiced at home it would mean they would play more and learn more. I feel sorry for those that do asa we are stuck with playing basic stuff, however for them I have created a lunchtime band so they can more advanced stuff. Keeping those interested throughout the term is hard and some just give up in week 2 or week 3. Of course this means they are then stopping others from learning as they make noise, talk and are generally off task. The ones with learning difficulties tend to give up more quickly because they believe they can’t do it, not matter what I do or say. They also get a free lesson each week with the specific instrument teacher to help them.
    Year 10’s have at least chosen the subject but even they at times just want to jam for every period but I make a deal with them of 2 0periods a week practical and 2 theoretical ( which has practical application throughout),
    I do frustrated towards the end of terms with year 9 s as those that have decided that they don’t want to do music become problem kids as well as those that give up beforehand. It’s the joy of being an elective subject I guess. I try all sorts of things and maybe I’m just tool soft as just wan thyme to all play. I set them rules and we discuss them and if they are broken then they have detention after a talk and then if it happens again its doing written music work with HOFs and then it’s referral to the Dean. Unfortunately the school is more interested in bums on seats than quality at times although they stress excellence but if the focus is just more on bums on seats then academic levels drop or you don’t be the funding. It’s also hard being the only music teacher, been at this school not quite 2 years. Some days I finish school and think I’d leave if I won Lotto the next day as I don’t need the stress, but love my subject. Music by its nature is noisy and sometimes very chaotic so the normal run of the mill behaviour strategies don’t always work. I always have troubles figuring what consequences to give students that actually work and follow through. I e only been teaching 4 years but I started teaching when I was 45! It’s been a rough road so far. Sound confusing all this? Well thats how I am with some of my junior classes. Seniors have their own set of problems, lazy mostly and want the easy way out and then blame you for what they don’t know. I’ve tried teaching my seniors what they need to know but unless it’s games of just practical they turn off and then turn around and blame me for not teaching it. I give them everything they need to know, offer to go through but they can’t be bothered, some of them. Aah! Fortuneatey the are some bright lights along the way but it’s an uphill battle with student engagement and behaviour.

      Graham Single says 23rd March 2012

      Ps I’m in NZ

Meredith says 23rd March 2012

We are a Direct Instruction School and the teacher talk is very repetitive. Keeping their attention is difficult. What they would rather do is horse around and talk. Looking for strategies to improve on task behavior.

Debra says 23rd March 2012

I so much enjoy teaching and challenging my students to do their best. The diffficulties are when I have students work in groups they tend to drift off and play around. I have a small class and believe that work in groups can be beneficial. I tried all boy group and all girl group , but that didn’t work. Then I tried mixed groupings and called them learning communities. I want to allow my students freedom to move around in the classroom to work or even work on the floor, but they become distracted. The boys in the class have often told me that they do not like school. I want to make learning more enjoyable. Looking for ways to accomplish that in the classroom

Lucy says 23rd March 2012

Hi,

1. My 12-13 years old can’t understand English at all. I’ve to use Bahasa Malaysia translation for the Iban communities and Mandarin for Chinese group. Is this the right way to teach? They find listening to kid’s nursery rhymes and baby pictures too kiddy!

2. Due to the lack of interest in English and I, as a new teacher, failed to get their attention, the class went noisy. They started to be mischievous and talk, running up and down in the class; it’s just so hard to raise my voice to teach those minority who are still keen to learn.

    Bob says 27th March 2012

    Lucy, try tpr activities. Things like ‘heads, shoulders, knees and toes’, ‘Simon says’ You can also use activities like these to introduce new vocabulary.
    Of course nursery rhymes and baby pictures are too kiddy – they think they are grown up. Their is a place for them in practicing pronunciation – get them to sing/say them in different ways. Quietly to your neighbour – the teacher is listening, the baby is asleep, you are in a noisy shopping centre…….

    Have you tried simple pop songs like lemon tree? The kids recognise them as pop songs and therefore think they are fun/interesting but again you can introduce a lot of language under the guise of teaching them a song. If you have access to some technology you can possibly create a class website and put the kids singing songs on there and let the world (or their families anyway) see what they have done. If they know it will be public they will put more effort in.

    For more information on technology in an EFL environment google ‘Be A Webhead 2012’ and you should find the BAW page with lots of useful stuff. There are also webinars run by atesol which also has hints on teaching younger students – look at youtube you can find them there.

    Good Luck

    Bob

sujata singhi says 23rd March 2012

need help on similiar discipline issues.

sujata singhi says 23rd March 2012

I guess the problem of classroom management is rather universal. I face similiar problems with my students aged 16-19. some concrete regime may help I guess but again once used, it fails to work when repeated. Probably, some collective help of teachers across places could help.

Nichole M. Troy says 23rd March 2012

I find that as a new teacher, I have the hardest time getting the attention of my students. Like so many other teachers have stated, my students are almost burnt out and have exhausted any possibility of usefulness as far as school is concerned. I would like to learn some introduction techniques that can get the attention of elementary aged students without resulting in out of control behaviors. I find myself most frustrated when their is a lack of retention. The information is important.. I just need a better way to present it!

MARIA says 23rd March 2012

In a class I am coaching in, the students do not seem to care whether they do work or not. They start off the session okay but after a few minutes they become disengaged and tend to interrupt others. There is a general lack of interest in learning which is not supported by pareents. How can we keep them on task and interested?

Julia says 23rd March 2012

I don’t really have problems with the younger or older kids, but the kind of 10-12 year old bracket just love to talk amongst themselves so much, and of course that is so much more interesting than doing what they are supposed to be doing, that it is difficult to get them to really focus on the content of the lesson. Of course if their English was good enough that they could do most of this talking in English I wouldn’t worry so much, but it’s not so it’s all in Japanese. They are not bad kids, would just rather talk about boys/school/ their teachers etc. than listen to me (which I really only ask them to do for very short periods of time when I’m explaining something new) or do their pair/group work activity. Although it does make me feel rather frustrated and that I have to be chivvying them along all the time, the main problem is that it means they don’t progress as fast as the younger groups because they don’t have the same focus and level of concentration. I feel like maybe I haven’t figured out how to reach this age group as well as I have the others, but not quite sure how to do so. Some of them are also starting to enter the stage where they like to challenge/rebel against any kind of authority so maybe that is some of the problem too, though I try to be very open to their suggestions and friendly but firm rather than authoritative.

Carole says 22nd March 2012

Re. barriers to engagement – agree with other comments above especially where a small number of students are spoiling the lesson for the majority. It can feel like the motivated, better behaved students are missing out my time and attention. I’d like to be able to push those students to achieve more but my attention is taken elsewhere by keeping the disruptive students on task. Also, I would like to know how to encourage students to be more independent and self-motivated.

Vicky says 22nd March 2012

The one important issue I struggle with is that my little students (about 8 years old) try so hard to behave themselves during 100 minutes lessons and that the most gifted children finish their activities much earlier and lose their engagement while waiting for the others.so they get tired waiting, I get tired looking for something to occupy them,the weak students get tired rushing themselves…chaos

Roger Hamrick says 22nd March 2012

This is year 36 for me, and what I find in the intensive behavior support program is that more students are enrolled presenting significant mental health issues, issues that are better suited for a day treatment type of program than a general elementary school special education program for children with behavior disorders. The issues presented make engagement difficulty at times. What I have found to be effective to gain engagement are those things which capture the imagination and gain the attention of a “visual” population.

For example, intermittently I use a text to speech movie site to introduce lessons, for practice of written language skills, for spelling practice, as well as for teaching social skills. Project based learning, both visual and hands on, seems to engage students in instruction. Listening to students for those things that are meaningful to them, whether inside or outside of the curriculum, also presents an avenue on which to travel instructionally. It is much easier to teach writing skills to a student when completing a 3rd grade biography project when the students’ interest is captured.

Case in point, for a third grade student, creating a script for a Blackbeard power point may be much more engaging than one about a colonial governor of the state of North Carolina! One can talk about who the governor was while working on the project. (He gave Blackbeard a “pass” so to speak and let him taunt and terrorize the coast! It was the governor of an adjacent state that help bring Blackbeard down.) The form of government in England was much more interesting when my student found that Blackbeard was initially a “legal” pirate – the government actually hired sailors to serve as pirates in the late 1600s and early 1700s. This was of great advantage to them at this time.

Hope this is helpful.

Adalita says 22nd March 2012

I am a high school teacher, i teach English, Business, Information Technology and a get ready for work certificate. This is my 7th year of teaching.

I have a difficult Year 11 English Communication class. This class was difficult from the moment I gained the class in week 4. The class is a mix of abilities including 2 Special needs Students. One possible IE student (being tested) who also has ADHD. Students who came from an English class and were changed due to lack of effort and engagement. I have battled with them from the word go. They refuse to do the set work, make a poor effort on assessment, I am left disheartened. I also teach another class of the same subject and have no problems with them. The unit we have just completed is called My Voice which included a novel about an Australian convicted of drug smuggling in Indonesia. They then had a letter (from the author writing home about his experiences) and speech to present (based on drugs and their effects on society) I can’t change what I’m teaching as its in our work program. There is a lot of reading, writing, and oral presentations in the course. My next unit is travel and conflict. I seriously need help as this class are doing my head in!

    Adalita says 22nd March 2012

    I forgot to say that I’m in Australia too.

Carolyne says 22nd March 2012

My biggest struggle is that I am a supply teacher and with some, but not all, classes the more challenging students are off task and talking when they should be engaged in their work. This goes across all subjects but especially with Maths, some students who struggle with Maths just start chatting and cause disruption through the whole class. I try and help individuals while students are working on tasks, but find the noise always escalates and some of the students are getting very little of their work done, and they do not care about detention or other consequences. I use a range of strategies to notice and praise students who are on task and also include the struggling students in hands on activities helping me on the IWB or board, which they like, but in general the main problem is noise and this escalates and results in quite a bit of disruption.

Philip Rozario says 22nd March 2012

Many things – getting them all settled and following instructions without its turning into a shouting-match (better use of pre-prepared written material needed, no doubt), Also conflicting rules : ‘teach up to the end of lesson but ALSO leave time for adequate recap and Q/A for strugglers’. Latecomers – how to deal with these in an effective way which sifts out genuine v. spurious reasons (being firm and consistent but not utterly rigid!) and keep lesson on track. Inevitably even a brief episode re latecoming means valuable time and focus lost. Also, encouraging the diligent and quiet to have the confidence to take part and help deflect attention from the egomaniac ‘saboteurs.’
Sorry – rather disjointed thoughts before having to go off, but I owe a response (whatever it may be worth!) in recognition of the great resources you have produced for the struggling teacher!

Sergio says 22nd March 2012

I struggle to make the topic (teaching Spanish) interesting to all students. Some are engaged, but some are not.I want to reach everyone and make my class more interesting.

robplevin says 22nd March 2012

These are all GREAT comments – thank you for taking the time to put these down. You’ll be pleased to know ALL these problems are, I believe, solvable. At the very least we can substantially reduce them and I’m looking forward to sharing all the ideas with you. 🙂

davy dale says 22nd March 2012

My year 10 group can longer focus and concentrate for more than 10 mins, after this pupils destress by misbehaving and getting out their seats. I get to the point of becoming robotic and just ignoring their tussles when I should really be dealing with it. I would welcome some ideas on engagement and then maintaining that interest!!

Karin G says 22nd March 2012

I have a group of Year ten very low ability students. Science. We have 100 minute lessons so I divide the lesson up and have about 4/5 mini lessons within the time. My problems is that they are on a modular course and most have failed their last module spectacularly. I took them over in January and their motivation is virtually zero. They spend 90% of their time on their mobile phones and refuse to co-operate when asked to work. This caused problems when they have friendship issues and they turn into a pack of vigilantes backing up one side or another. They will randomly leave the classroom and cause havoc in other classrooms or I will get a classroom invasion of stroppy kids wanting to sort something/someone out. I am desperate as our senior management is weak as we are being covered by our deputy as our head is working with Ofsted. There is no-one who has a presence, plus they are pretty much invisible anyway. When our head was here if the kids saw her walking round the school they say ” there’s Mrs >>>>>> gosh she must be lost”. I like the class but they are such hard work and I feel useless as they mess about around me.

Dan says 22nd March 2012

I teach elementary students, primarily 2nd-4th grade (USA), in a rural area. I have been a classroom teacher but currently “push-in” to classrooms for targeted remedial instruction with small groups. I occasionally also teach whole-class lessons in the regular classroom. The following happen in both whole-class and small-group situations:

Biggest struggles: teaching using other than lecture technique; making the topic interesting; keeping everyone else’s attention on the speaker when teacher talks or when one student is (supposed to be) answering even the quickest, simplest question.

Annoying outcome: students don’t know what to do, or ASK what to do, shortly after being told EXPLICITLY what to do — because they were talking, distracted by “toys,” or just zoned out — not engaged.

Caris Jonas says 22nd March 2012

My students are seniors who have been assigned to the lowest track. They have a history of poor attendance, most work jobs on their family farms or are loggers before and after school. The demographic for the district is 70% free or subsidized lunch and breakfasts. Strong performance and high grades characterized the first 2 quarters. Third quarter has been a different story. Accustomed to failing grades, they are now content to fail third and fourth quarters, and take the 69% ( 0.5% above failing) for the year and graduate. My issue is how to help them value themselves as learners and work all the way to the finish line.

Nadine says 22nd March 2012

I am a HLTA and have a small cohort of 11 students (that I follow ASDAN programmes with), my problems are:
Over half have behaviour issues and continally disrupt the teaching and learning of the group it can be a whole lesson!;
2 are very quiet girls, one of which is now refusing to come into class due to the behaviour of the 6;
3 are statemented SEN students that need 1-1 support (1 TA to support).
The school has a behaviour policy which if I followed (to the letter) I would have 6 missing by the end of the lesson sometimes within the first 10 minutes!
I would love to be able to engage them in more out of classroom activities but I feel I cannot trust the 6 to behave and it would spoil it for the rest of them.
Help!

    EmLy says 23rd March 2012

    … could you please explain the acronyms used? It’s a bit hard to understand the exact situation …

Paula says 22nd March 2012

I struggle with a student who is lazy and easily distracted by anything. No matter how many times I remind him of what he has to do he keeps on drifting away and not working. He handed in his test, this week, half incomplete. I asked him why he hadn’t completed everything and he replied he didn’t know how to. I’m calm about it but his mum has asked me to give him extra attention.

I also struggle with two student, in different classes, who gives up too easily. I ask them to do something and they have the negative ” I can’t do it” attitude. I have recently been given a small group of weak 11 year old students…distracted, can’t remain sitting in their places, strong personalities and loud. One of these students has a negative attitude and it ends up being contageous with some of the others. I feel a bit helpless at times even though I remain calm. I freeze at times. They probably see a teacher with a distant frozen look on her face. What should they see in a situation like that? Should I smile when they do something they shouldn’t?

All advice is appreciated. Thank you for helping.

I

guille says 22nd March 2012

1. my biggest problem is at the beginning of the class. i have a group of about 21 students who don’t see the relevance to learning a second language. they talkative, disrespectful, one sleeps in class. we have 90 minute classes so it is very difficult to keep them engaged for that long a period. i have tried breaking the period into blocks of 30 minutes, varying the activities but no matter how i present the material this class is determined to not like it. i also feel and think that my students equate engagement with entertainment and feel that if it is not entertaining they do not need to pay attention to it. i find that the most difficult thing to try and introduce to this class is conjugation since it is not really something that is “part” of the english language, at least the way U.S. students look at it. i have not taught in other countries, i am a native of mexico and have found this extremely frustrating.
2. this class has had a tremendous effect on my moral even to the point of making me think why should i stay in education.

Sister Maria Philomena says 22nd March 2012

1) My biggest difficulty comes in the middle of the lesson (I’m working with high school and junior high students) — keeping them engaged (40 minute classes). We’re doing fine by incorporating open note quizzes (this addition made a huge difference), but the classes, like literature, where they are taking turns reading or answering questions, still tend to lose some of them.
2) My classes are small — about ten students (except for music and art when there can be up to twenty). So, when two or three students start communicating (faces, gestures, comments, being goofy), it can be a sizable disruption. What effect does this have on me? I get irritated (at least internally). I put huge amounts of energy into my classes (no one could call me boring!), but I rely too heavily on the students reactions. When they don’t react favorably, I am deflated.

Eme says 22nd March 2012

My frustration lies in not being able to have my students see the relevance of education. Regardless of topic and/or delivery, they see the whole school concept as too boring and much effort for them.
What can l do to change this view?

    Melody says 26th March 2012

    1. As a supply teacher at high school, one of the biggest problems I have is that I don’t get given a copy of the seating plan for the class. Naturally some students take advantage of this and it causes a lot of problems and time-wasting at the start of the lesson when I’m trying to get going. The ‘Miss, he doesn’t sit there’ and the ‘well if he’s changed seats why can’t I sit next to my best friend?’ comments can take up valuable time and while I’m sorting it out other low level disruption occurs.

    2. When students are not engaged they will try to walk over and borrow equipment from someone on the other side of the room, or a student may accidentally ‘fall’ off their chair, cue lots of laughter… I get really angry with this, I don’t shout or scream but my body language probably demonstrates my feelings; big frown, crossed arms, going over to talk to the student concerned. It prevents me from teaching and talking to individual students who need my help.

      Robin says 1st April 2012

      Melody, I am in the same position you are a temporary classroom teacher. However, I deflect the seating arrangements by announcing that they “…can sit where they are as long as they are working and on task. As soon as their behaviour is not working for me I will move them.” If a student questions my position I simply tell them I am the teacher today and what I say goes. I always enter a classroom as the teacher no ifs and no buts. It works.

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