Top 7 tips for dealing with Student Apathy

Elementary and middle school students are still attention seekers.  They still want that sense of approval from their teachers.  The challenge with them is getting them to focus their energy on the task at hand.

What do you do when their is no energy?

As a high school teacher,  I see this behavior everyday.  Students that want nothing to do with learning regardless of how interesting or fun I make the lesson.  We feel like we try everything from our end to get these students motivated and they need to give a little bit on their end.  Regardless of what we try, nothing seems to get through.  Although their isn’t a simple solution to this, here is what I came up through my experience and research.

  1. Keep working toward building relationships

    You could go a whole year trying to spark discussion with students to get them talking, yet some students are reluctant regardless of all your efforts.  This starts with listening. Understanding what their needs,  what they are looking to get from your class and their needs will help you better engage them.

  2. Be positive and enthusiastic, yet genuine

    Have fun teaching the lesson.  Attitude is contiguous.  Remember you need to be a good salesman to get students to buy in to your class.  At the same time, students respect people that are real with them.  They might not be happy with it at all times but they get where you are coming from.

  3. Make it relate-able and relevant

    More high school student are going to listen in  if the topic pertains to something that effects them now or in the near future.  Explain why this should matter to them.   I try to draw a parallel with something they understand to make sense of a more complex topic.

  4. Model the behavior you expect

    Lead by example.  From the way you greet students when they walk in the door to how you speak to other adults in the building.  Students see everything and they will call you out on your bluff.

  5. Set clear expectations and guidelines

    If students understand how to succeed in class and what they could do to get their, they are much more likely make the decision to be successful.  I know…You could make it blatantly obvious as to how to get that 100, yet some kids still won’t put in the work.  However, continue to show them what success looks like.  Some of the average students will starting coming around

  6. Teach them how to prepare

    With presentation software,  learning management systems and other ed tech gadget, we falsely assume students have it easy in regards to resources to help them(I assumed these as a young teacher).  We just assume students know how to prepare for assessments and assignments.  Guide them in the process of thinking and developing.

  7. Hold Students to high standards, but meet them where they are

    We want to set the bar high for our student, but we want it to be an obtainable. This will prevent them from quitting on you and themselves.  We also do not want to teach over their heads.

Its important to remember that its nearly impossible to get through to every student.  I’m sure we have all heard the phrase “You can’t save them all”.  However, these tips might help you turn below average engagement into average or elevate the level of excitement just slightly they we are doing something right.

Listen to the podcast to get a more in-depth view of this topic.





One thought on “Top 7 tips for dealing with Student Apathy”

  1. I understand how hard it can be on the teachers when they have to teach an uninterested student. It only gets worse in special education where the child genuinely has difficulties concentrating on the lesson or something similar. As a parent of a learning disabled child, I am in gratitude of his teachers at Aaron School here in New York, who continue to be wonderful at their work.

    Liked by 1 person

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