‘School days are the best days of your life’. We’ve all heard the saying, and for some, the lucky ones, it really is true. For others, however, the very thought of going to school is enough to fill them with dread, perhaps because they are being bullied, can’t engage with learning, or have mental health difficulties; as a result, they might begin avoiding school altogether.
When a child becomes truant or worse, is excluded, the general perception is that this is because they are a ‘problem child’. However, the reality is rarely that cut and dry.
Former teacher and founder of EDLounge, Sam Warnes (pictured) discusses.
Any ‘problem child’ I’ve ever encountered wasn’t actually a problem child at all! The term itself suggests that these children have some dark and deep-rooted issues that cause them to inherently act out. In my experience, however, these children are simply disengaged; and disengagement can manifest itself in many different ways: bad behaviour, defiance, creating chaos, refusal to complete tasks or take part in classroom activities, attention seeking, physical or verbal abuse, or complete indifference. Ultimately, anything to avoid the actual process of learning.
Research has indicated that a rise in truancy and the number of exclusions from school over the past few years, often due to persistent disruptive behaviour, is observed among students from various backgrounds. To overcome this rising issue, we need to work with these students to rebuild their engagement with learning, and their trust in mainstream education. But how can we do this?
Start with the source
It may seem obvious, but going directly to the student in question to discuss the issue is a great first step.
When you first notice students beginning to disappear from the classroom, sitting down with them and talking about what’s causing them to avoid school can help to resolve the problem, and identify the support they need in order to get them back on track.
Giving students ownership of their learning is also important, as is making the learning journey relevant. Enabling them to see the connection between what they’re learning and how it fits in with their goals, or potential careers they might want to pursue in the future makes the process more meaningful to them, which in turn, increases engagement.
Introducing edtech is also a great way of helping to re-engage students. Young people seem to have a natural affinity for technology and gravitate towards it; therefore, using it as a tool to engage them makes sense. For example, there are platforms available that offer all students the opportunity to access learning online that adapt to their ability and academic needs in ways unlike ever before. For those students who, for whatever reason, are unable to attend school, virtual learning platforms allow schools to continue delivering lessons to support these students from afar, while simultaneously working to re-engage them with mainstream education.
Engagement is key to keeping students in school. While teachers can work hard to engage students, particularly those at risk of becoming truant or excluded, the reality is that, unfortunately, there will always be some who struggle.
At the end of the day however, every child deserves an education, regardless of whether they’re inside or outside the classroom’s walls; delivering that should be a key focus for educators, or anyone for that matter, involved in the education sector!
For more information about EDLounge, visit www.edlounge.com