Teachers are fairly used to the notion of lost students—those children who never really speak up or engage. While it might seem a bit overwhelming to get through to those students, there are some ways to make them feel more comfortable in the classroom.
The addition of educational technology can provide some creative approaches for reaching lost students. You might even get them to engage with their peers. Here are a few practices to consider when trying to engage the lost students.
Make the classroom a safe space.
Sharing among your peers might be scary for students and even some teachers. Create a safe environment in the classroom where students feel comfortable voicing their opinions. Focus more on creative thinking rather than always harping on correctness. When students are celebrated for their efforts, they will continue to try harder.
Give students other outlets to engage.
Classroom discussions are a great way to determine whether students are grasping concepts you are teaching, but some students are just not comfortable speaking in front of large groups. Make technology work for you by using discussion boards as another outlet for classroom discussions. This empowers those lost students to find their voices in a less aggressive way, where they can be in control.
Place value on questions instead of answers.
Typically, teachers are constantly asking for answers from students—answers to homework, quizzes, and exams. While there’s a huge need for answers so students can show mastery, there is also a need for students to show critical thinking. Asking questions is a sign of inquisitive minds. If students are asking questions, they’re craving more in order to create their own paths to knowledge retention. Reward that type of thinking so students are encouraged to think critically and continue searching.
Ask open-ended questions.
Yes or no questions are so definitive. The path to knowledge is different for everyone. Try posting more open-ended questions to encourage deeper levels of thinking and creativity. Doing so will illustrate to students that they can develop their own thoughts. They won’t be overly concerned with impressing their teachers or their peers because they will know their personal thoughts and opinions are valued.
Lost students don’t have to be lost forever. There are some great creative ways to engage these students. It starts with making them feel safe, and sometimes that might mean going the extra mile to create a safe space outside of the classroom, or with technology, so students can be more comfortable.