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High ability low motivation

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by tcoll123, Jun 16, 2015.

  1. tcoll123

    tcoll123 New commenter

    Hi there,

    I'm currently doing an NQT project looking at pupils in my year 7 French classes who are high achievers but often lack motivation in class, despite - I hope - being given appropriately differentiated work and plenty of praise at appropriate times. Enjoyability of the work is also not always a problem, as often other pupils will be happily getting on with it without a fuss. There is:

    - the daydreamer, who will often not even put pen to paper as she stares into space. Can ask her several times to get working and won't.

    - the sulky one, who is generally unhappy to be there and will only get working with after being pushed to (that she lacks confidence is one thing I have learnt).

    - the distracted/disruptive one, who will chat to others around her and can get loud and disruptive. When asked to do work she will have a go at you and say "I'm doing my work" when maybe she is doing the absolute minimum and could be doing more.

    If you teach/have taught any pupils who match the above descriptions I would very much appreciate if you could share any strategies that worked with them.


  2. rustyfeathers

    rustyfeathers Occasional commenter

    Some thoughts - possibly a bit disjointed, but I'm rather tired!

    You say enjoyability is not a problem because others are getting on. Two things here:

    1. What I enjoy is not the same as what my friends enjoy;

    2. Enjoyable =/= engaging.

    You say high achievers - across the board, or specifically in French? I was a high achiever across the board, but struggled in science. This was missed, and being treated as a high achiever did not help. Beware sweeping generalisations.

    You "hope" work is differentiated appropriately. Check that. Is the challenge an actual challenge - or just more of the same? Do they feel they are being "punished" with more work when they finish? I know students who get resentful of this very quickly.

    Is the daydreamer struggling to plan? I've taught a range of thought mapping, and this helps students who don't know how to start.

    If you're sure it's simply that she WON'T do it - sanction her. The work is done is class or at break. Simple.

    The chatty one - set a higher minimum. And clear expectations of what is an acceptable level of noise. "Yes, you are doing your work and you're also being rather noisy. More of the good work, thank you" approaches can help.

    Support the one with low esteem. Praise. Set small targets.

    Also, at secondary, I find talking to the student can help: "I notice you're struggling to focus in lessons. I'd hate for you to fall behind - especially as you have a real talent for French. Is there anything I can do to help you?" There might be a strategy, or it can remind them of what's expected and let them know you have noticed.

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