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NCEC 2016: Focus on the right students and boost classroom performance

21 June 2016 | General Interest

Teachers can drastically alter classroom performance by identifying compliant-disengaged students in their classes.

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BBI was the Silver Sponsor of NCEC 2016 Conference where Dr Tim McDonald, from Catholic Education Western Australia, said research has shown 20 percent of students have disengaged in class and are 1.5 years behind their “consistently productive” peers.

“These students are falling behind and we’re not challenging them to catch up. The right level of challenge will push children on to something. What is it we have to push them towards?

“Teachers must explain to their students ‘You will need to put effort in’. An engaged student is one that is putting in effort and without it there is no intrinsic motivation,” Dr McDonald said.

While 60 percent of students are consistently productive, the remaining 40 percent of children fall into disengaged (20%), low-level disruptive (12%) and uncooperative (8%) clusters, and they are all underperforming.

Students falling into the compliant-disengaged group require a tangible connection with their teacher, which is fostered by engaging the spirit of their heart.

“Teachers need to ask themselves ‘What is it that I am doing that enables non-learning?’”

“Students misbehaving are not learning, and the soft option is to let these kids get away with bad behaviour.”

Dr McDonald said students may move from one cluster to another throughout their education, and the key to lifting classroom performance is to identify those students that comply with direction but fail to participate or engage in class.

Jeff Bliss, an American high school student whose video went viral, famously challenged his teacher to connect with him, after being ejected from class. Jeff pleads with his teacher to stop serving him packaged information, with little substance and no connection.

Dr McDonald said teachers can drastically change results in their classroom by identifying the 20 percent of students that comply with direction but have lost interest in what is being taught.

“Jeff Bliss is right. There must be a connection from teacher to student. You need to reach out and touch the kids’ hearts if you want them to learn and engage. Foster belonging, competence, independence and connectedness and this will transpire into better results in the classroom,” Dr McDonald said.

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