By Lynn Samartino
As a middle school teacher, I’ve encountered many types of students. Some start the school year eager to learn, while others would rather be outside the classroom hanging with their friends. Some are distracted by added responsibilities, like taking care of siblings, chores, or working to bring income to the family. It’s difficult to reach those students who aren’t very motivated to learn and need direction, but I’ve developed some strategies to help them learn the value of their education.
During the first month of school (and even before then), I review data to drive my instruction and observe my new students to understand their work habits, individual needs, and learning styles. Usually, students do well with the initial activities and events until the curriculum is implemented: participating in class, completing lesson activities or projects, and homework assignments.
The rigorous work is difficult for them, which is a positive thing. I want to challenge my students to increase their cognitive abilities. Through these challenges, I can identify students who don’t want to work because the work is “too hard,” are just doing the minimum or sometimes no work at all, by the lack of work turned in, lack of participation, excuses given for not completing work, or playing around in class. Once I identify those students, I try to awaken their desire to learn with a combination of these strategies.