December 8, 2023

What do you do when a student refuses to complete classwork? Check out these teacher-proven strategies to help you get things back on track.

What to do if a student refuses to complete work

When a child refuses to complete their work, it can leave teachers feeling frustrated, confused, and even upset.

But the trick is knowing when to push and when to back off. The teacher-tested tips below will give you options and ideas to help you navigate these tricky situations!

Student refuses to complete work? Here’s how to navigate it

There are many reasons why a student may not want to complete their work. Some may be legitimate reasons and others may stem from a lack of confidence, frustration with the subject, or issues with something else going on in his life.

Like teachers, students often have trouble leaving their external problems at the door, and stress from other situations can spill over into the classroom.

If you have a student who refuses to complete work, here are some strategies that can help.

Create high value incentives

Students love incentives, and when you hone in on exactly what motivates your students, you can use that to your advantage. Many students are motivated by food, so snacks and small pieces of candy can be great motivation to work, even if they don’t feel like it.

You can have individual incentives and class incentives that everyone can work towards. Pizza parties or outdoor time are always popular—even for high school and college students.

Break Up the Work

When you assign work, assign it in small chunks. Instead of writing a 30-minute assignment, break it into smaller pieces. Five minutes to write the first sentence, 10 minutes to write the next two sentences, and so on.

Breaking the work into manageable chunks will make it less challenging for students. This in turn makes them less likely to refuse to do the work. Just make sure the amount of time you give each “chunk” is realistic and takes into account any adjustments or adjustments needed.

The order doesn’t matter

Why insist that tasks be done in a certain order when it’s not necessary? Letting students choose the order in which they complete them gives them more control.

If you tend to have problems with students who refuse to do “challenging” assignments, share with them Mark Twain’s idea of ​​eating a frog first. Then ask, “How is your frog today?” It’s a quick and easy way to verify that the task is difficult for them, while giving them the opportunity to tackle it first.

Twice as much – cut in half

Another teacher trick when a student refuses to complete work is to assign twice as much work as you want them to complete and then let them choose the half they want to do.

This gives them control over the problems they are doing while making them think they are only really doing half of what they are assigned. In fact, you really only want them to complete half the work anyway!

Verbal reinforcement

Sometimes encouragement and validation is all a student needs when they refuse to complete work. Your support and kind words can make a big difference.

If he still refuses to finish the job, you can gently express your disappointment. Be sure not to express anger or frustration, as this can lead to a power struggle that spills over into other areas.

When you develop a good relationship with your students, sometimes the most powerful motivator will let you down.

How do you deal with students who refuse to complete class work? Are there any special tricks you’ve discovered while teaching? Share them with us below!


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