5 Strategies to Combat the Silent Crisis of Disengaged Students

5 Strategies to Combat the Silent Crisis of Disengaged Students

Student disengagement is a complex problem that demands more than a one-dimensional solution. It calls for a proactive approach from school administrators to understand and address the root causes, writes Michelle Singh CEO of LCT-E Learning Solutions, a teacher professional development consulting firm, in Education Week.

“When I teach educators how to combat student disengagement effectively, I focus on a suite of five adaptable strategies that I call the EQUAL method: evaluate, qualify, uplift, activate, and leverage,” says Singh.


Initiate a cultural audit annually to evaluate the school’s cultural inclusivity. Send out a user-friendly online survey to ask students, teachers, and parents succinct questions about the visibility of diverse cultures in classroom materials and students’ overall sense of belonging.

Review the outcomes of this audit regularly, perhaps once every semester, to plan actionable steps. Based on the survey responses, you might implement monthly cultural celebrations or create a “wall of diversity” in the school.


Develop and implement an inclusivity checklist. This should involve input from a diverse group of educators to ensure the checklist is comprehensive and relevant. This checklist can be used by each teacher individually to self-assess, enrich, and diversify their lesson plans.

The checklist should detail essential inclusive teaching practices, such as employing multicultural literature and exploring various historical perspectives, to guide educators in creating lessons that mirror their student population’s composition.


Enhance classroom engagement by encouraging teachers to start and conclude each class with a series of concise, guided social-emotional-learning activities.

Distribute SEL activity one-pagers. These resources can be tailored to different age groups and should include clear, step-by-step instructions for each activity. For instance, a one-pager for a primary grade might include a five-minute mindfulness exercise with illustrated breathing techniques like box-breathing, while one for older students could outline a quick, reflective journaling prompt about gratitude or empathy.


Bring the vibrancy of the local community into the school environment by planning a “bring a community member to school” day, a “community project” day, or “local hero” talks.

School leaders should create a straightforward planning checklist or template to ensure efficiency and consistency in organization. Appoint a leadership outreach team to enlist the support of local entities. That team might contact local business associations, cultural institutions, libraries, and service clubs to participate or contribute resources.

Family resource centers, local colleges or universities, and even alumni can provide valuable perspectives that help educators understand their students’ lives outside of school.


Encourage teachers to offer students a choice in how they demonstrate their knowledge at least once each term.

Give teachers the tools to apply these diverse assessment methods confidently, including resources like flexible rubrics and concise training videos. Provide teachers with a menu of assessment options that allows them to tailor assessment to students’ unique abilities and interests, broadening the ways students can express their learning. This menu might include a variety of formats like oral presentations, posters, projects, written essays, or digital portfolios.

Set aside space to display student work in school exhibitions, digital newsletters or student showcases. Such recognition not only validates student efforts but also promotes a supportive, relationship-focused school culture. Highlighting these achievements, the school visibly commits to engaging different types of intelligence and creativity.

Education Week



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