06 February 2017

Don’t blame disengagement on the student

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The job of teachers is one of the most important jobs out there, yet it is often one that’s overlooked, underpaid and understaffed.

Not ensuring students the best education has massive consequences, not only for the student, but for a nation as a whole.

I know firsthand the importance of having good teachers. I know what difference they make not only to your learning, but also to your self-esteem. They have the power to help build and create the person you will be for the rest of your life. Whilst having a great teacher will set you off to a great start in life, having a bad teacher can damaging for the rest of your life.

It is the teacher’s responsibility to engage all students in the daily learning activities and to encourage all students that they have the capacity to achieve great things. It’s by no means an easy task, but a vitally important one, one that requires skills that few have.

According to a recent report by Grattan ­Institute, Engaging Students: Creating Classrooms that Improve Learning, disengagement in the classroom has a profound effect on the whole classroom environment and the overall learning of all students, the Australian reports.

“It’s [disengagement] certainly reducing academic results. If more students were more engaged, they would be learning more and our results overall would increase and we should aim to do that,’’ Grattan’s school education program director, Peter Goss, told the Australian.

During my first years of school, yes, the ones when everyone is really excited and hungry to learn, I was not. I became at a very early age one of those disengaged students, much to my lack of self-esteem and my teacher’s inability to give praise. However, I noticed a drastic change when changing teacher to one who told me that I was smart and encouraged me to do even better. Both my parents and I were in shock. I thought there was no future for me and I was already doomed to be a dumb looser.  

Motivated by my teacher’s praise, I became one of the biggest swots in the class, and my grades improved massively. Not only did my grades improve, but so did my self-esteem.

Despite the importance of being able to engage students, it appears to be a skill many teachers lack. The Grattan report found that many graduate teachers aren’t properly trained for the challenges in the classroom.

The report found that “only half of new graduates say their initial teaching training course helped in “managing classroom activities to keep students on task’’ and only one-third felt their course had assisted them in “dealing with difficult student behaviour’’. Just one in three principals believe new teachers are well prepared for managing classrooms,” the Australian reported.

As a result, there are calls for better training of future teachers, for teachers to be able to respond to the needs of all students.

From someone who had the both of two worlds; the damages my first teacher made to my self-esteem is something that I’ve constantly had to work with and an issue that’s hard to get rid of. But the positives my other teacher brought helped me get back on track and become the person I always could be.

Written by: Mimmie Wilhelmson

Mimmie grew up in Sweden and first came to Australia as a backpacker after high school. After travelling around the country for two years she returned to Europe and pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism in London. But the longing for Australia and the sun became too strong. After having worked for some time in the media industry, Mimmie decided to make a change and swap the news for conferences. She now gets to do what she loves the most, meeting new people and keep learning about cultures and issues while producing conferences on current topics.

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