One of the hardest things I had to deal with in my first year of teaching was student apathy. I could not understand why students would rather take a zero than to complete their work. During the course of the year, I incorporated three strategies to help me and the students combat this problem.
I found building a relationship with the students helped. By taking an interest in them and learning more about the student helped me to understand their apathy. This included finding out their interest, their family life, and attending any extracurricular activity that they might be involved in. I realized that oftentimes their apparent apathy has nothing to do with the course. There may be personal matters that are dominating their attention. Showing a little concern can be very helpful.
I believe measuring the students’ progress early and regularly is also helpful in helping to deter the student’s apathy. This gives the student a clear idea about where they stand academically. This may involve quizzes, timed writings, daily assignments, or outside class assignments. This is important because sometimes the apathetic student may also be the student struggling with the class. To help overcome the student’s apathy I give students individualized instruction during class, more time to complete the assignment, and provide a morning tutorial.
Also promoting good will by letting students know when they have done well helps to motivate the apathetic student. Praising the student in front of their peers and/or providing small rewards such as candy, pencils, stickers, or even bonus points can be very beneficial.
In closing, the apathetic student can be motivated by getting to know them on a personal basis, keeping them updated on their grades, and by praising them for a job a well done.
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