Question Detail

What to do with a student who refuses to do work?

Jan 19, 2013 7:23pm

I have a student who says assignments are boring no matter how I teach them. He doesn't ever do his homework and doesn't care about positive reinforcement. He wants to be silly most of the time and get the class off task. Any suggestions?

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    • Jan 21, 2013 11:47am

      I agree with both Kate and Sharon, and to make it all more interesting, I'm going to suggest that the student may even need a more challenging task. I recall a student in my 4th grade class...always off task, no work. I asked him to write 3 math word problems for the class that were "wacky" or "humorous". Right away he wanted to know what that word meant...and he kept on his task to make the class laugh. It was a small act of engagement, and no, he didn't suddenly do all his work, but he
      was more willing to try it. I kept tossing little assignments his way all year, a variation of what Kate was doing.

      • Jan 20, 2013 7:29pm

        Is he capable of doing the assignments? I've had kids say the assignments are boring because they couldn't do them and didn't want to admit it. I would also save every assignment (or blank page) for documentation and schedule a conference with his parents. They may not care now, but you can be sure when they get that possible retention letter, they'll be up there wanting to know why you want to retain their child. This gives you evidence of his work, or lack of it.

        • Jan 23, 2013 1:49am

          Dani, I have the same problem with a student in ninth-grade English! She won't do classwork, and she frequently disrupts her neighbors. I sat down with her to talk about it and she is adamant that she doesn't need to do anything in this class because she can just take summer school, which is fast and easy, and she doesn't have anything else to do in her summer, she claims. She's not motivated by grades, college, career prospects, or any intrinsic motivations with which I've tried to appeal to her. I refuse to give up on her completely.

          I don't have an answer to help you, but I'm very sympathetic and also looking for a solution, even for a student in high school!

          • Jun 5, 2013 5:14pm

            Would it be possible to ask the parents to do an impromptu visit on their kid in the class? The kid doesn't even have to know they're coming so that they can see their kid's (mis)behaviour. I know that this will embarrass the kid but producing no work is unacceptable. By the way, this would only work if the parent has good control over their kids otherwise, I would solicit the help of the principal or the counselor.

            • Oct 6, 2014 5:56pm

              It is a simple 15 minute, once per week strategy, to repetitively motivate and inspire underperforming elementary and middle school students to excel academically and socially and to respect their teachers, schools, peers and the learning process. www.OnGiantsShoulders.ORG