STOP teaching irrelevant lessons!

Complete and utter boredom.

That what some students will feel when they sit in class today.

They will sneak their phones out and record a few snaps. Perhaps they will “like” and “retweet” a couple of tweets.

The Problem

Some of the students in our classes today will be bored.

We often view engagement as the teacher’s issue, but that’s not always the case.  Many factors cause students to become disengaged in our classes. Social media, Netflix, interpersonal relationship drama, and home life will all contribute to the distractions for our students. Though these distractions are formidable, sometimes student’s disengagement is born out of a different issue.

The Reason

Teachers fail to pre-assess students sometimes and instead, make them sit through lessons that they have already mastered.  

The Solution: Pre-Assess for Relevance & Engagement

When teachers teach lessons without assessing students’ prior knowledge they put themselves in a position to have a disengagement problem what students. Every teacher knows the importance of pre-assessment, but we rarely see it used before beginning lessons.

Pre-assessment is the key to unlock the individualized learning in which students want to engage in. Every teacher can stop teaching irrelevant lessons by giving a pre-assessment before teaching new content.  The data gleaned from this pre-assessment can then be utilized to differentiate the content at a level that provides scaffolding for struggling students and extensions for advanced students.

I once sat in a PLC with teachers who discovered that 60% of their students could pass the state test after only two months of instruction.  It was a gut punch to their egos. I completely understood what they felt because sometimes educators think that we are the only vehicle by which students can learn.

These teachers began to design lessons to fill in gaps that were determined by the pre-assessment when they realized how advanced their students were. As they dove into closing these gaps, they experienced the joy of not feeling like there was too much content to teach and too little time to teach it.

Lessons aren’t irrelevant when teachers have the time to facilitate learning at the appropriate depth and complexity. Students understand and buy-in because of the relevance factor.

How will you stop teaching irrelevant lessons and impact student engagement today?

2 Responses
  1. I had never thought of this before. What do you suggest in terms of timing? A pre-assessment shouldn’t be the entire class period but it is also difficult to grade them on the spot. Should it be given at the end of a different lesson? At the beginning and do the introduction to all students before the data is analyzed then act on it? I’m struggling with seeing how to sequence this to make it effective time wise,

    1. Brandon Johnson

      A few ways to implement pre-assessment is to create a leveled rubric, a leveled 4-10 question quiz, or quick write. You could have students self assess and set a goal for where they want to be at the end of the lesson or unit. Your pre-assessment can also be your summative assessment as well.

Leave a Reply