12 Reasons Students Just Aren't That Into You
Imagine this. Your partner announces that he is not into you (gasp). Would you:
A) Agree to disagree and turn the revelation into a teachable moment about communication,
commitment, and resilience
B) Stalk Dr. Phil’s website and twitter for last stitch relationship rescue tips
C) Fuel the fire by googling video clips of relationship-gone-wrong movies like “War of the Roses”,
“Waiting to Exhale”, or “The Break-up”
D) Keep calm and cling to the dating jingle “You don’t have to be lonely, at Farmers Only (dot) (com)”,
that shows if Old McDonald can find a date, there’s a mate for everyone
Regardless of how you answered, the point is that the not-into-you announcement should strike some sort of reaction from you. Now, let’s take the same not-into-you proclamation and think about teaching. Why do students become disengaged with their classrooms, curriculum, or ultimately their teacher? To get the real answer, I asked my students. Working with their peers, they composed a list of their top teacher turn-offs. Take a look at some of their responses below:
1 They think tests reflect my overall knowledge
2 They tell stories more than they teach
3 They end it early (the class or the lesson)
5 Put you on the spot
6 Take forever to grade or return work
7 Pick on silent students
8 Be so textbook, like not fun or just everything is so strict or boring
9 Trick answers in multiple choice questions
10 They are not prepared
11 Too much unnecessary work
12 Expect our lives to stop...
Do you do some of the things on this list in your classroom? Come on. Be honest. I am guilty of offense #2, because I am a serial story teller (Don’t believe me? You ever notice how my blogs typically begin with a story?). Although we could defend the times we commit the dreaded student turn-offs, the point is to begin to evaluate our relationships with our students.
So you may ask, what’s the best way to self-evaluate? Maybe you can begin with asking yourself some tough questions. For instance, Marvin Marshall writes about the reflection process and encourages the reflector to pose the question:
“If I were a student, would I want me as a teacher?”
If you want to start with something a bit more concrete, maintaining a teaching journal is a great alternative. You can go here to download a teacher diary template and suggestions.
Here is what it comes down to. We want our students to be engaged so that we can achieve our very own academic happy ending. The problem is, that we don’t want to admit that there is a problem. It hurts to think that our students aren’t into the lesson that we slaved over. It hurts to learn that they aren’t into our teaching methods. Admitting our poor relationships with students is uncomfortable, but only after acknowledging the issue, can we begin to repair teacher-student relationships. .
To conclude, I’m sharing an excerpt from the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You”, that reminds us that the quest for happy relationships starts with us:
Maybe…It’s you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over, freeing yourself up for something better in the future. Maybe the happy ending is …Just …Moving on. Or maybe the happy ending is this, knowing after all the unreturned phone calls, broken-hearts, through the blunders and misread signals, through all the pain and embarrassment you never gave up hope.
Ok, Your turn. Say it with me, “My name is _______ and sometimes, I am an engagement buster.” Would your student’s top teacher turn-offs look similar to my student's list? Now, if you are one of those teachers that every student loves (don’t rub it in) what’s your best strategy for getting students more into classroom instruction?
Don’t make me feel like a social misfit. If you are into by blog-sort of, review ways to capture student attention by using current events, or brush up on a few strategies to engage diverse students. If you are more of a visual learner, please visit my Pinterest board for more teaching ideas on student engagement.