Who’s In The Gaps?

91 winter blogs (5)

We’ve all seen it. The student who is never a problem, never causes any trouble, never seeks any attention, and never asks for much of anything. Maybe he turns everything in, maybe he only misses here and there. Regardless, something seems missing.

This week, as the semester winds down, think about the students who are slipping through the gaps.

Look down your roll. Name something you know about each student outside of class. An interest, an area of involvement, something.

But don’t stop at the identification stage. Make a plan to engage the students on your list. Be at an event. Invite them to join a club. Identify some common ground with them.

Take what you’ve learned and turn that into a challenge for those students. Pair what you’re doing in class with an assignment in another course. Give one of these students the opportunity to lead in an accessible way. Create opportunities for early success en route to those challenges coming in the spring.

Why invest here?

Compliant students, as many who fall through the gaps often are, are not necessarily engaged students. While I’m all for having students who are willing participants in class, compliance can be a byproduct of engagement or willingness to fail or take on new challenges. Observing compliance doesn’t indicate with any degree of certainty that those good things are happening. We (yes, we, everyone responsible for what’s happening in the classroom) must look for more as we check to see that our students are challenged well during their learning.

Act Now

This week, while you are still in the building with your students, create your list to being engaging in January. It’ll start the year right and give you something incredibly worthwhile to pursue as the spring semester begins! Find those students in the gaps!


This blog is post #14 in my 91 day winter blog challenge. I’m posting a blog each day. Check out other posts at #91winterblogs, or subscribe in the top right corner of this blog to receive these blogs as emails. Thanks for reading!

One thought on “Who’s In The Gaps?

  1. Barbara Kurtz Reply

    What an excellent point! What students do I overlook simply because they are completely compliant and never seek attention? How can I better engage them? How can I show them that I notice them, appreciate them, care about them?

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