Whack-a-Mole in the Classroom for Student Engagement?

Actually, whack-a-mole in reverse.  For, you know, better student engagement.

(Had a sheltered childhood and don’t know the game? Check this out … and then hurry back)

Not everybody wants to talk, but everybody wants to be heard.

Instead of suppressing the mild mannered dude in the 3rd row, what can we do to draw them out?

Maybe their input but will be off target … but maybe it will be fodder for everyone to gain incredible insight too.

Like when your kid first learned to tie his shoes … it was abysmal, right? But with encouragement and coaching, they eventually figure it out.

The 2016 elections in the United States brought out lots and lots of accusations of hate and complaining.

While I am not here to justify or condemn either position (plenty of other places to find that conversation!) I do offer an observation that perhaps parallels a potentially hostile instructional environment:

  • How many of the people labelled as hateful just want to express their fear of their cultural and community identity taken away?
  • How many people labelled as complaining just want to express their fear of their cultural and community identity taken away?
[Important note: This does not refer to the person who wants to hi-jack your class because they’re a [email protected]!]

Occasionally, we encounter those people in class that have some real value to add.

Maybe its a differing view on a popular topic that could add some real insight for the rest of the class. Or maybe its a way we can make our point even more relevant.

As world-class instructors we need to keep a look out for these folks. They’re usually the one simmering away in the corner.

If you get to them early enough, they’ll show enough of their wants, needs, fears, etc. to the surface that you can incorporate them in your course to everyone’s benefit.

Or, if we let them simmer away too long, they go away disgruntled and not any better with whatever you taught them.

And nobody’s got time for that!

How do you manage the simmering guy in the corner who’s not engaging?

Who else needs to know?

About the Author

Mike McKenna is the founder and president of TEAM Solutions. He helps public and private sector responders successfully lead themselves and others through any planned event or unplanned crisis.Please contact Mike via the Contact page or at any of the social media links with your unanswered questions and your unmet needs.

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