What About the Students That Don't Show Up?

Updated: Feb 11

3 Factors That Prevent Students from "Showing Up" and What We Can Do

Student engagement is the ultimate goal, whether we are teaching virtually, in-person, or in a hybrid model. We know that students learn more when they are engaged, and many of us have found ways to really engage the students who show up to our classroom. We craft interesting lessons and give lots of feedback and encouragement. In the past year, we have even gotten really skilled at doing all of those things virtually, too. With breakout rooms, interactive whiteboards, and clever facilitation tactics, we have worked hard to keep the learning going.

But, what about the students that don't show up?

One of the biggest challenges we face in these uncertain times is the challenge of getting kids to "show up" to our online classes. We can't control all the factors that influence their attendance or absence from school, but we can start to understand what those factors are.

3 Factors That Prevent Students From "Showing Up" to Online Learning

#1: Disconnection. Learning online can be lonely and isolating, leaving students to feel less connected to their teachers and friends. When students are disconnected from others, they tend to disengage or disappear from virtual learning completely.

What we can do: Tap into the power of the "Social Brain." We learn through our interactions and communications with others (McLeod, 2018), so let's emphasize social interactions whenever we can. One way is to use our live time together (whether in-person or in web conferencing) to foster strong relationships with our learners, giving them a chance to interact socially as well. When students feel like they are a part of a community, they tend to participate more in synchronous and asynchronous parts of class. Here are a few community-building ideas to explore: 5 Virtual Ways to Build a Classroom Community (PBS Teacher's Lounge).

#2: Overwhelm / Confusion. It's true, learning online can be tedious and overwhelming. When students do log in and see a long list of lessons or assignments, they can feel defeated before they even start to do any work. If they're working on school work on their own, our students may be feeling uncertain about what they are supposed to do, or how to do it.