Okay - who relates to this?
Your students were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in September, but seven months later, the enthusiasm is gone. They can see the light at the end of the tunnel and their engagement has slowly waned, fatiguing each week.
Maybe we can blame the academic calendar. Maybe we can say students are tired (they do have a lot on their plate) and/or simply ready for summer.
The fact remains that students have checked out and you’re missing opportunities to engage and excite them about learning.
If this is hitting too close to home - I’ll come out and say it - it sounds like your students have divorced you. May it be through fatigue, frustration, or disinterest, somewhere along the way fewer hands started going up in class.
Listen, I’ve seen this happen everywhere. I’ve seen this happen to fantastic instructors in schools of all types. May rolls around and it’s time to think seriously about how can we reignite the excitement we saw at the beginning of the year.
I always start with relationships. How are you building relationships with your students? What are you using to stay connected and to illustrate that you’re interested in developing students’ learning outside of the 40-minute class period you have together?
Essentially: how are you nurturing relationships with students after the bell rings?
If there is no natural system in place for students to ask questions, collaborate with peers, or connect with their educator after class, it’s only a matter of time before we see disengagement spread. Students have questions and ideas. When we have no outlet for those thoughts after class, we communicate that learning is reserved for a specific 40-minute course period. That’s not what we want, is it? We want to encourage inquiry at every level and lifelong learning.
Students have questions and ideas. When we have no outlet for those thoughts after class, we communicate that learning is reserved for a specific 40-minute course period.
My recommendation has always been collaborative learning. Platforms that create a digital space for classroom connection open doors to new kinds of engagement and idea-sharing.
These tech solutions are never a replacement for pedagogy. These tools aren’t things that we can put in place and walk away from. But if we combine them with encouragement, support, and meaningful classroom discourse, I believe that we’ll see an exciting new level of engagement across students.
With two(ish) months left in the year, it’s not too late to focus on relationships, shake things up, and provide students with a voice and choice in their learning. With attention waning, maybe now is exactly when you should be mixing things up in your classroom routine, trying on new collaborative tools for size, and inviting students to be part of that design.