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Unmotivated Students


Full Member
I have several very lazy students. I am really at a loss of what to do. They are just putting down any answers on papers just to finish. I have taken away fun extra privileges from these students until their work improves. I have made them correct the papers during their recess. The parents don't seem to care. I am really unsure what to do. They are very bright and capable of so much more. How do I get them to work at their ability.


Senior Member
You can lead a horse to water...

but you can't make it drink.

After trying everything you know, at some point these students are just responsible for their own choices. I would say to let them fail if they don't want to put in the effort. I'm sure you have students you can focus your energy on - students who WANT to learn and do well.


Full Member

That has to be one of the worse statements I have ever heard a teacher make. "Let them fail!!"" Yes they need to be responsible for their own choices, but take some pride and keep trying to find something that is going to motivate the students.

Of course you want to focus your energies on the students who WANT to learn, but most of the time those are the kids who don't need a that extra attention because they are focused and motivated.

I posted something earlier on the thread about motivating. Take a look at the "I will" statements that I am using currently. I have also started having the kids write an "I will" statement that they want to accomplish by the end of the day.

This is working great!


Senior Member
Happy Medium

I don't think you should let the kids fail, but I also think at some point you need to put most of your energy into the kids who DO care. I've got a few kids who rush through work, write nonsensical answers, and fail consistently. They want to have time to read or draw. Its good that you took away your extra fun privileges, and yes, I would make them do the work over during recess.

What about having these particular students ALWAYS give you their papers to scan quickly, and mark the ones they got wrong? All students put their work in my basket, but a couple of them have to show it to me beforehand, so I can make sure they did a good job. If not, its back to their seat. They may soon tire of constantly being hounded to correct, correct, CORRECT!

C Texas


Have you thought about them making a list of things each one of them LIKES to do? ( Computers time, lunch with the teacher, a special game at recess...) You could use that as a reward for good work.


Senior Member

My response was a bit of a vent in itself. I have several students with whom I've tried EVERYTHING, but they're just not doing what they should be. I've tried all of the suggestions people have listed on here (except the "I will" statements...I'm not sure where that post is). I make them spend their own time correcting papers, I praise them a million times over when they do work, I reward them, etc. I am to the point where I feel like I have done all I can, and now it's up to them. If they choose to not do the work, then the consequence is failing.


Senior Member
I think you need to mix it up a little with the assignments. Fewer worksheets. More sticky notes. I made up a Jeopardy game on PowerPoint that I projected with the LCD projector. What a fun teaching time that was! The kids were in groups of 2-3. The questions were all multiple choice (just like the questions on the standardized tests!). They had ABCD cards to flash versus shouting out or writing down the answers. I let them keep score. It was quiet and the kids seemed really engaged. I recommend games and projects as well as groups and pairs. Maybe you should have the kids write some poetry as well.

I am aware that no matter what you do, there are some kids who will not buy into your program. If you can't get anywhere with these kids and their parents can't either, you have to accept the reality of the situation knowing you did your best.


They must be related!!

Your concerns are echoed throughout our nation!! Lazy students, who live with unconcerned parents. I've been teaching for twenty years, and I have noticed that this group is growing larger each year. How do we get them to work at their ability level? You do the best that you can do and you leave the responsibility of improvement with the parents. Notify the parents of missed assignments, incomplete work, and poor quiz / test grades. By doing this, they won't be able to blame you for their child's poor performance in the classroom. Remember, do your best and don't take it home!! Gooood luck!


New Member
Send them back!

Hello, I have had about two of my students have a PRIVATE meeting with their last year teacher. They told them they were sad to hear they were not doing their work. A teacher also told my fourth grader, if he didn't want to do fourth grade work then she will give me third grade work for him to do but then he would receive a third grade report card :)


Full Member

Under "New ideas to spark students intrest" is where I posted the "I will statments"

3-4 statements
3 goals for fouth grade (i.e. social, attititude, grade, have them mix it up)

1 life goal (career, graduating college, ect..)

I am still doing this everyday and thier "I will" statements are going to be laminated and put on thier desks Monday. I am sending a copy home for the parents to put somewhere in the house also.


My Son is One of Those

I have a 15 year old son who is a HS sophomore and belongs to the ranks of the unmotivated. He rarely does any homework, is highly disorganized, and in general thinks that school is a waste of time. I have triedd everything to improve his motivation but he wants to get by with the minimum. He is failing four subjects right now. Zero average in English because he simply doesn't do the HW. He is learning Shakespeare right now and hates it immensely. Can't figure out how to answer the questions as he doesn't understand Middle English. Force a child to do something he doesn't want to and this is the result.

Educators have to listen to children before making judgments. Why is this child unmotivated? What does motivate him? Are there ways to turn on a child's natural curiosity? Yes, the child has his responsibility and the parent does too (I sometimes have the feeling that my child would not get anywhere if I simply "let him fail," ) but teachers have to better understand why students turn off and what their own responsibilities are for turning them back on. My son was given detention during FCAT testing week because he didn't go to Math class. Well, the math teacher was showing a football film! If students are expected to go to classes, the least we can expect from teachers is that they do what they are paid to do.



Yes you are right sometimes kids have to fail before they trully understand. THe only thing is the teacher needs to stay close by to catch them before they fall to deep. Once students know the consequences to being lazy, then teachers can better help them.



I work with a sped population non profoundly handicapped we have 21 days of school left and most have done nothing, sleep or complain "dude I'm tired " "dude i partied too hard etc. I am a very patient assistant and I had to walk out of the classroom to "regroup. This group of students tests and trumps any and all efforts at education. Sometimes I'd rather pay for prison with my tax dollars than an education then prison!!!