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With all the zombie flicks out there today, I've started to become enthralled with the concept of zombies. I mean, how does a zombie epidemic start anyway? If you watch the movies and television shows out there, you'll see that multiple theories exist for how zombies might come about, but there's no research on it or how to end the epidemic once it starts. We know what causes lack of engagement in the classroom, though, right? Lack of relevance, insistence on worksheets, lack of support, disrespectful climate, and fear of failure are just some of the things that cause disengaged students in the classroom. Why don't we want disengaged students in the classroom? Well, why would we want zombies in our classrooms? And why the heck am I talking about zombies, anyway?
10 Ways Disengaged Students are like Zombies
- Everyone is afraid of them--so much that you read article after article on how to prevent them!
- They consume us. Not literally, but they definitely consume our thoughts because we want to get them more involved in their own education.
- They're infectious. Ever had that one kid who tries to draw attention away from a lesson by drawing attention to himself? How many more students become disengaged? It only takes "one bite" for the infection to spread.
- They're violent(ly opposed to learning). And yeah, sometimes a disengaged student can become violent, depending on his or her coping skills. But mostly, they're very much opposed to doing what they feel lacks meaning.
- They're in a state of (educational) decay. You can just see pieces of rotten, decaying instruction fall to the wayside.
- They're non-communicative. At least, they do not communicate in a productive way. Just like zombies, you can hear their moans and groan in the background.
- They're mobile, but technically not fully alive. They've been deadened by a lifeless environment.
- They're unemotional at times. Where zombies feel no mercy toward their victims, disengaged students lack emotion toward learning.
- They do not attack other zombies...er...disengaged students. They tend to have a mob mentality in this way, taking over your classroom with an unspoken camaraderie if you do nothing to stop them.
- They're clumsy (learners). Fortunately, unlike zombies, we can help them become less clumsy with the right strategies.
What's the only way to stop a zombie? You get to their brains! Of course, we're not trying to stop a disengaged learner in his or her tracks, but we definitely want to get to their brains--by creating opportunities for active learning. In this sense, like in Zombieland, you'll want to "double tap" by choosing more than one way for a student to reach an objective. If you want to truly feel safe from disengaged learners, you may want to triple tap. Use the multiple learning styles to get all students in your classroom engaged in what you're doing. Allow time for group work, hands-on activities, music, visual lessons (like videos, charts, and pictures), opportunities for movement, etc., in order to find ways for all students to connect in a more meaningful way. Provide real-world connections to your lessons and let the students help drive the learning in the classroom while you moderate. Stop the disengagement dead in its tracks, because nobody wants that infection to spread!