Handling indolence

14th October 2005 at 01:00
Agony Uncle answers your questions

As you might expect I have large classes with a wide range of ability and I do my best to cater for everybody. What I am struggling to come to terms with is the extent to which some pupils clearly work much harder than others and whether they are all equally deserving of my attention. I am finding that too much of my time is taken up going over and over subject matter and chasing up coursework. I can't help thinking that I could be doing much more for the students who are clearly putting in the effort and I must admit that I have started to give up on some of the indolent characters in my class although I feel very guilty about this. I am trying to justify this decision knowing that I am giving those who really want to achieve something a better chance of doing so.

It is tempting to give up on students sometimes but I wouldn't recommend it. For a start the root of whatever problem they are facing with the work is invariably more complicated than labelling them as "indolent". You must try to find a way to encourage these students to put in more work, perhaps by adopting a range of different teaching strategies to cater for the different levels. This, of course, is more easily said than done. In my experience, students with poor effort and attainment may be covering up for a problem of self-esteem or an as yet unrecognised learning difficulty.

Don't forget to use whatever incentives or sanctions you have at your disposal to encourage students.

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