At the core of every student going to college is the desire for more. More knowledge, more affluence, more abundance, more recognition. They're here to learn because they want more from life than the hand they were dealt. And within that undertone of commonality, we as educators have a very solid way to reach each of these students to get them more engaged and more invested in the everyday experience:
Step 1: Get To Know Their WHY
If you can connect with each of your students, understand the purpose for why they're going to walk into your classroom everyday, even when they don't want to, even when it seems like they could care less about what you're serving up, you can teach to it. You can honor their goals and cater to their journey. You can place milestones along the way to help them see tangible ways in which they are working towards their goals. You can keep them motivated, engaged, and willing to show up.
Step 2: Meet Them Where They Are
It could be easy to blame the lethargic student body for dwindling educator enthusiasm. You teach to a group of students who just stare blankly at you the whole time and it can be challenging to keep up the energy. But here's a solution: instead of trying to meet students where you think they should be - you need to meet them where they are. You need to pause your lecture and say, "Hey. Two of you are nodding off. Should we all get up and stretch?" Shake up your routine with activities, competitions, group discussions - you don't even need to discuss the content so much as what gets them excited to learn. Dig through the thick walls that your students may have built up to protect themselves and try to connect with the essence of what's driving them to attend class.
Step 3: Consistency Builds Trust
No matter what kind of group you've got in front of you, be consistent with who you are. Every day when you show up to teach, you be your best self and you bring it every time. The more your students trust that you're going to be there for them, be understanding and roll with them, they're going to keep trying. If a student lets you down by asking for an extension and then still doesn't turn in the assignment, but they show up to class the next day, you welcome them in. If a student drops your class, you reach out to them and let them know that you've got their back and will be ready to help them succeed the next time around. Never allow time to make you apathetic. Each new student is a new opportunity to build a better person, and this world needs all of us to be better.