The constant challenge — what to do when a student tries to opt out. A consequence or reprimand can alienate the student, ignoring it sends the message that participation is optional, and there isn’t always time to check in with students who are trying to avoid participation.
My new favorite, simple move — if I call on someone and they’re clearly not with the class, I say “Great, I’ll come back to you in a minute.” Move on to someone else, and circle back once they’ve had a chance to catch up. It’s not always possible, but it’s a great positively framed way to send the message that class time is for learning, so you need to be with the rest of us.
This is my go-to move during number talks–I start by cold-calling students before taking hands, and I want to embrace the idea that every student has to participate without pressuring students to feel like they’ll get in trouble if they don’t have an answer when I call on them.
The catch is — if I say I’ll come back to a student and don’t, I’m creating a much bigger problem.