I want you to take a minute and think about your favorite class in school. Your favorite teacher. Remember what it felt like to be in that classroom. Remember what is looked like. What it sounded like. Now, grab a pen. List all of the things about that class that caused you to pick it as your favorite. ALL of the things that made this class come to mind when I asked you to think of your favorite one.
Think again. This time about your least favorite class. Your least favorite teachers. Remember what it felt like to be in THAT class. Remember what it looked like. What it sounded like. Pick that pen back up and list all of the things about that class that caused you to pick it as your least-favorite. ALL of the things that made this class come to mind when I asked you to think of your least-favorite one.
Why did I ask you to do those things? I truly believe that, in order to combat apathy in your own classroom, you have to draw upon your own experiences as a student. Every single teacher was a student – for many years. You have been interested in classes and disinterested. You have been engaged and bored. You have been proud and you have been discouraged.
When students are apathetic there are often two causes. Frustration or boredom. Frustration is harder to combat. You have to provide instruction, support and intervention to help ease the frustration and help them overcome challenging topics.
Boredom is, in my opinion, easier to overcome but it will look different for everyone. You all have very different groups of students with different interests and backgrounds. The way to combat boredom – and in turn, apathy – is to KNOW your students. Incorporate their interests into your lessons. Get them involved too. Let your students help plan and prep lessons. Ask them to provide and explain examples of the skills as they appear in their own lives. Allow them the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of topics using choice boards. Mix it up! Try something new. Do an activity you’ve never done before. Switch up your stations or centers. As adults we tend to get bored when things are repetitive and predictable. Think about that when planning activities for your students!
Try to be the teacher who taught your favorite class. Those things you wrote on your first list? Do them! Learn from the teacher who taught your least favorite class. Those things you wrote on the second list? Avoid them! Combat apathy by helping your students overcome their frustrations and look forward to your class!