When will we be ready?

Bored student waiting for time to pass (in class)

We see it every day in nearly every class. The students lean way back, eyes drowsy, barely paying attention, sometimes propping their chin up with their fist… we’ll call this ‘the slouch.’ Or they’re leaning forward, spine curled over, head resting on their arm or desk, as if to take a nap… we’ll call this ‘the slump.’ We can walk down the halls of almost any secondary school, peek in the doors or windows, and see numerous kids slouched or slumped while teachers talk, while videos play, while some class peers work quietly on their seat work. Youth are disengaged, unenergized, and apathetic … and we call this normal.

When will we be ready to own that many of (as we move up through the grades, even most of) the learning experiences that we create for students are BORING?

And that it’s not teaching them ‘grit’ or ‘resilience’ to make them suffer through what we’re providing?

Image credit: Waiting for time to pass, Richard Phillip Rücker

6 Responses to “When will we be ready?”

  1. Thanks Scott. I see the same slouching, slumping students in many classrooms during my building walks. Conversely, I also see some classrooms that include noise, movement, excitement, and disappointment when the bell rings to leave. The difference is rather obvious. In the first situation, learning content is being dictated. The teacher is the hardest working person in the room. In situation two, students are leading the learning through inquiry and curiosity. Authentic problem-solving, collaboration, and persistence with skills-development, make students the hardest working people in the room. In this situation, grit and resilience is replaced by relevance and vigor. When will this become the norm? I don’t know. But it will happen sooner when we continue to shine a light on those situations where learners are engaged in meaningful pursuits.

    • @Robert, your comment about “the teacher being the hardest working person in the room” while lecturing suggests that you may be part of the problem, not the solution. Just like a good IT person looks like they do nothing (because everything works… a bad one is constantly busy), a good teacher looks like they are not doing much. Excellent and engaging lessons do not drop out of the heavens, they require a great deal of time to plan, and require testing and refining. No one criticizes teachers for “lessons” of students taking notes, does your school give teachers a reasonable course load? Class sizes? Common planning time? An environment where they can try new things and have them fail? Are they penned-in by a curriculum that require them to “cover” an unreasonable amount of material that does not allow time for exploration?
      Those in administrative and support roles need to look carefully to see if they are encouraging the change that they wish to see, or punishing those who try. It’s great to walk in and see the lesson that works well and engages the student, but you often missed the 3 or 4 attempts that failed, or the revisions of the “sort of worked” versions.

      • Hello Bill, I may not have used my words clear enough because I think we are arguing the same position. I walk my building as an instructional coach wanting to see energy and engagement from our students. There is an inherent problem when 30+ people are in a room and one of them is exerting effort. I am part of the problem, and so is every other educator in this country until we collectively ditch the obsolete practices from the “industrial age” of education and get our students into the authenticity and relevancy of socially networked learning. Thanks for prompting further discussion. Bob

  2. Thanks Scott. I direct a research center at the high school level with a lab school (called hack school) that is part of our list of projects. In one class teaching grit and stick-to-it-iveness is the main learner objective. I’d love to hear of other courses with the same objective. From a former student of yours (U of M), thanks. I will share your post with the class right now.

  3. This is most definitely an issue in A LOT of classrooms across the country. We see it with a good number of our teachers that we coach at Edconnective. Getting student engagement is tricky business!

  4. Scott- we just had a group of kids, teachers, parents, admins, and community to continue a discussion with board around re-energizing the high school. We shared our boredom survey data in a trend line from 3rd to 12th grade- 8th grade/10th grade are points of increased boredom. But, we have a lot of teachers who are figuring out how the transition to our seven pathways work engages and empowers learners. We also are seeing informal learning spaces as key to this as well. Here’s one example 13 days after school started – open music construction and recording lab https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JAMx4IZkSk

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