Every day we ask students to value what we value. We are trying to get them to learn our curriculum, with our assignments, on our time. Many students are happy to comply, but we all probably have students who choose to do very little in our classes.
When I taught freshman Algebra I would get up in front of my class and say “I play World of Warcraft.” Kids would go home and look me up. “Mrs. Keeler, you need help! You need to ____” and they would give me tips on how to get better. I’m a casual player so I never did all the cool things they thought I should do, but just that personal connection, the kids would want to do work for me.
In my husband’s English class this year he has a kid who had not completed any work (they are in week 3.) Going over to talk to him, he asked the kid what he was excited about. Turns out he is trying to do this project for the homeless in the community. “Okay, instead of doing my assignments, do something for your homeless project and I’ll give you credit for the first 3 assignments.” Kid: “Can I also do a presentation? I might want to present this to someone.”
Value What They Value
Part of teaching is getting to know the kids in your class. Try giving them credit for what they are already doing. Not necessarily a modified, apply math to your skateboarding, but just give the kid credit for skateboarding. Find value in what they value.
Try something outside of your comfort zone. If your students like Minecraft, install and play Minecraft. You are asking the student to do something they do not particularly enjoy (yet), be willing to value what they value first. Have a good attitude and try something they like. Find things to like about it and share with them what value it does have. Try not to say the word “but.” 🙂