How to Engage Non Responsive Students

Graduate Programs for Educators
Graduate Programs for Educators

A myriad of reasons could be causing students to be non-responsive. Problems at home might be causing disengagement, so could a lack of a connection to the curriculum or the instructor, or students might even be feeling there is no purpose to the lessons being given.

Whatever the cause of non-responsive students, it is our duty to try and reach through, to engage the non-responsive students and hopefully get them on board with our classroom management and our lessons, so that learning can commence.

Classroom Management to Engage Non-Responsive Students

It’s important that all of your work have a purpose – a big reason for a non-responsive attitude can be that the work you assign seems meaningless. When using classroom management to create assignments, always as yourself, “How does this relate to a student’s academic life, and his or her own goals?”

Converse with the Student

A simple tactic to engage non-responsive students is to get to know them better. You can do this by walking through your school with the student in question, while having a conversation. You can also invite the student to lunch, or even attend an after-school club meeting with him or her. The personal engagement can be key when breaking through to a non-responsive student.

Use Students’ Interests as Examples

Find out what your students’ interests are, and plan activities and assignments around those interests. A custom-made grammar worksheet filled with NBA players and statistics can engage the non-responsive sports fanatics in your class. Meanwhile, a math lesson based around the solar system can engage the celestial-minded students in your class.


Students, like adults, appreciate being in control of their own destinies, and the same can be true for academics. Start small with this option: Give them choices. Too many choices can be overwhelming! Other ways to use choices include having students work in groups of their choice, or homework menus that allow students to pick their own assignments.


Teachers have known for years that gamifying learning – the process by which curriculums can be enhanced by theorems and postulates that take place in video games – can be an effective way to bring students into the learning process. So it might be wise to employ tactics like “levelling up” to the next chapter, “beating the high score” and “winning” into your everyday lesson plans.

Real-Life Examples

A big complaint among non-responsive students is that they can’t see the real-world connection with a lesson plan. You can achieve this easily by mentioning the real-life scenarios to which each lesson can apply. For instance, link a math lesson to personal finance, a recipe, or even a daily schedule.

Overall, there’s no one method to engaging non-responsive students. But with a little bit of digging and creativity, you can attempt to engage the disengaged and, hopefully, put them on the right track to participating and learning.

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