3 reasons why you should be at your worst student’s ballgame
He doesn’t pay attention in class. If he turns in homework at all, it’s haphazardly completed (if it actually is complete). You can tell he doesn’t want to be in your class and he puts no time or effort into his education. He’s not dull. Students who just don’t understand will try and get questions wrong, but he doesn’t try at all.
This student sounds like bad news every teacher dread to have. But what you actually have on your hands is an opportunity to make a huge difference in your “worst” student’s life. There are reasons why a student is not interested and can’t be bothered to feign interest. Most of the time the reasons are personal. But they’re not going to open up to you easy. You must first prove your worth as someone reliable who they can open up to and trust; not just another teacher who gives up.
Showing up is a show of support.
Not all students who struggle with class have problems at home, but many do. If they are not just not completing assignments, but also acting out, it’s likely that there is something deeper going on. If a kid doesn’t get the support that they need, they are far less likely to want to achieve in school. But if you show up to his ball game, he will see that at the very least, you support him, even if he isn’t at the top of the class.
Show that you are interested in him as a person, not just a student.
The last thing that students want to feel like is one a string of nameless, faceless people that file through your class every year. Students who don’t perform in class often neglect their school because they feel that their effort is not appreciated and that they are not recognized as an individual—especially in the teenage years.
Being present at the game lets him now that he isn’t just one of a string of students; you genuinely care about what he cares about. When you find common ground, he is much more likely to come to you if he has questions and at least try to perform in class, even if he still isn’t the best student.
See what motivates him on the field and use that in class.
He may not be the star player on the field, either, but if he at least puts forth some effort, you can observe what motivates him and try to convert that knowledge into motivation in the class room. Obviously, yelling at him from the sidelines isn’t an option when you’re trying to get him to do his homework, but encouragement and building mutual respect may be exactly what he needs in order to build a desire to learn and achieve in your class.
As teachers, we have the power to make a difference. Every child looks to us for direction and motivation. They may not look up all the time, but it’s when we think they’re not looking that they are. We see many students every year, and they come and go so frequently it’s hard to care for everyone. It’s hard, but we try, because that’s what we do.
One day in the future, as you’re walking down the street, you will bump into a student you don’t remember who will genuinely be happy to see you. You’ll realise he remembers you not because you taught the subjects well, but because how you made him feel when he was in your class.
You will be glad you didn’t give up on the worst student in your class.
What have you done for the toughest student in your class to show you care?