Improving Student Attitude Towards Classwork
Every teacher dreams of a classroom environment that makes teaching fun and effective. But this desire seems to be elusive more often than not. There is always that group of students who poison other kids’ attitudes towards learning. Their disinterest in academic activities makes our job harder than it should be. But what is the solution to this problem? Should you wait until the learners’ bad attitude rubs off on their classmates or do you try to mitigate their effect? Well, the best thing to do is use preventative measures to prevent the bad attitude from hurting other kids’ productivity and happiness, while at the same time trying to reverse the effects of the bad attitude on the affected kids.
To improve student attitude towards classwork, you must first understand that the affected kids are content with their attitude and they will not change just because you have disapproved of it. Imploring them to change their attitude might not work very well. Cursing or threatening them will not work either. Students will adjust their attitude not because of what you say but because of the indirect actions that will accompany the words you say. It is all about showing the kid the right direction to follow and then allowing him to make the moves towards that direction. If you force them to make the moves, then the most probable reaction will be resistance.
Here are some of the indirect approaches that will help you improve student attitude towards classwork without causing them to be resistant or oppositional.
Adjust the learning environment
Create a proactive classroom that gives students the chance to engage in a wide variety of indoor activities. Make it challenging and competitive, but ensure that there is a support system for the kids who cannot compete effectively. Instead of every student reading a book on their own, in silence, keep them engaged by putting them in reading groups. Instead of lecturing all the time and boring restless students, arrange study groups and select group leaders to facilitate all the group activities that you assign to the group. They can handle group experiments, for example, or tutor each other on a new topic. Organize for a smooth transition between activities so as to maintain order in the classroom. Learners will be happy to volunteer to help in transitional activities, e.g. sharing out charts and experiment apparatus.
Communicate the benefits of attitude improvement
Give the kids a valid reason why they should improve their attitude. What is in it for them when they change, or not? You probably know the aspirations of each one of your students and if you don’t, you really should. Use the aspirations of a troubled child to engineer change in the kid. If the kid aspires to be a musician later in life, point it to him that his chances of making it as an artist are minimal if he keeps the bad attitude. Don’t tell him to stop. Make him see the need for change.
Nurture student bonds in the classroom
In order to instill a more positive attitude on a collective level, as a teacher you should nurture the students’ relationship with each other. When they get along, they are much more likely to positively influence and inspire each other. In other words, a good attitude will be contagious. One of the best ways to get your students closer to one another is to assign tasks that can only be accomplished when there is cooperation and shared responsibility. For instance, you can set up a little indoor garden, where every student is responsible for watering the plants for an assigned day. Like this, they have to coordinate, and constantly communicate with each other who is responsible for what. Constant communication is bound to get them closer. If your classroom is not very well naturally lit, you can ask your school to allocate resources and get a few grow lights that will compensate for the lack of natural sunlight.
Let the kids watch videos that teach good values. Videos for K-5 students, for example, are focused on teaching kids personal responsibility and ethics. They also encourage kids to develop critical thinking skills. You can then build on these skills to improve the kids’ attitude towards classwork.
Be firm against the behaviors that you tolerate and reward acceptable behavior. Ensure that you are consistent and fair in your application of school rules and regulations. It will help if you can make a list of the rules and post it adjacent to the board or on a bulletin board. Make copies of the rules and send them to each parent. Students with a negative attitude will be less likely to misbehave if they know your eyes and those of their parents are on them. That will mean that even if the kid doesn’t improve his attitude right away, at least he will not pick up new bad behavior. It is easier to control their attitude as it is now than after it has graduated to higher levels.
Instead of telling them to change their attitude, make posters that deliver your message in a visual way. They can refuse to listen to you, but they sure cannot ignore a well-designed poster. This passive intervention is a clever strategy that plants a seed of change in the kid’s brain which will grow gradually and ultimately produce results.
All attitudes serve a purpose, whether negative or positive. Some kids will show a negative attitude towards classwork just to get attention from you, the teacher, or their classmates. Some have unmet emotional needs that they need to be addressed, but they don’t know how to express themselves. Don’t take anything personally. Purpose to help the kid overcome their attitude problem.