How to sustain long term engagement: reward effort along the way.
Helping your students achieve a dream career is somewhere between a rock and a hard place. If you are a high school trained teacher you convey an enthusiasm about your subject. However sometimes this is not enough.
If you are in the TAFE system, your students can experience the direct correlation between your course and the skills required for the job your student will hope to achieve and sometimes even this is not enough.
At some point disengagement hits. There is always some area of dry content that one needs to know that threatens to turn your student off completely. At best they achieve low marks for that topic. At worst they switch subjects or leave the course all together.
Why does this matter? The student proclaimed this to be their dream career. They really thought it was, that or being a YouTuber or something cooler next week. Depending on their study habits, teenagers tend to have trouble sustaining their interest level if they are not constantly challenged and rewarded like the computer games they play.
I am not poking fun I am highlighting the very real and fast paced way our world moves today. Millennials will have 7 careers, some industries which will not have been invented yet.
This rapid changing environment means that teenagers attention is being drawn to various different areas. The areas that sustain their interest will be the ones that reward engagement. For example a computer game where points are obtained through achieving different levels; shopping rewards card which gives a discount after the user has bought a certain amount from that store.
In catering to millennials an educator would be wise to create some form of reward system for sustained engagement throughout challenging topics or dry content. The reward of persistence despite boredom or challenge will signal to the millennial that sustained engagement with a subject is worthwhile in the here and now rather than the distant future when they may enter to workforce.
If millennials stay the course on any one job, it requires motivation, persistence, focus and resilience. To achieve one's dream career these are the foundation skills required in any industry and field and in any geographic location in the world.
So what can we as teachers do? We can add in the “hidden curriculum” the key term known by those of us in industry to be those core skills motivation, persistence, focus and resilience. That we sometimes unintentionally teach subconsciously.
To make this a more conscious process:
- Reward effort not outcome.
The foundation of this is the Positive Behaviour for Learning Strategy.
- Accumulative assessment that leads to the formative assessment?
For example topic tests accumulative assessment that lead up to the half yearly exam.
Mini assessments with the foundational skills first leading up to the big performance or display of skills at the end. Focus on incremental improvements over time. Reward small changes in behaviour toward the task (i.e. if the student has a better attitude when challenged instead of giving up.)
3 and 4 Better done than perfect. However done early means focus.
Empathise the time it will take and reward getting it done instead of getting it perfect. Have a rewards system in place for those seeking early help regarding the task as well as early submission.
If you co create a classroom culture that focuses on motivation, persistence, focus and resilience you will set up your students with the core skills to change and adapt between the 7 dream careers they may have over their lifetime.
These skills will serve them in any industry they choose. Even the ones yet to emerge.