Inspirational Apathy-Buster Strategies That Inspire Apathetic Students to Aspire


classroom management blog


Apathy-Buster Strategies
That Inspire Apathetic Students to Aspire



If you've got apathetic students, we've got fantastic strategies for them.

workshop trainer Ruth Herman WellsThis is Ruth Herman Wells, M.S., author of many books and posters for apathetic students. We have so many awesome strategies to turnaround apathy, that it's hard to pick just a few favorite interventions for this issue. I hope you enjoy the strategies I've picked out for you and your students.



poster for apathetic studentsIt can be tough to inspire students who are "anti-self" but this creative intervention can be a good start. The quote on the worksheet has been attributed to the late Les Paul. It says "The same power you have to destroy yourself, you have to save yourself." You can use this device verbally; it can quickly start a productive discussion. You could also enlarge the worksheet into a poster.

Here is a wonderful alternative activity: Ask your students to research the life of Les Paul, who overcome many challenges to reach great heights as a musician and inventor.

You can order Poster #166 here.


motivational classroom posterThe little thumbnail picture at left does not adequately capture the special graphic effects on this worksheet. When viewed at full size, the word "DIPLOMA" appears more hidden in the background, creating a bit of a subliminal effect. When students realize that the background also contains the answer to the sentence featured on the poster, they may have an "Aha!" moment that you might not accomplish with a more straightforward approach.

This intervention hinges on the reality that each degree doubles the dollars that students earn. A high school diploma tends to generate about $329,000 more income for graduates compared to dropouts. This handout highlights that in a very memorable fashion.

If you read this worksheet to young students and non-readers, this intervention can work with almost everyone. This device will work best as a worksheet but you can also use the information verbally. If you prefer experiential approaches, use $329,000 in play money to make the activity more vivid.

You can have students use art supplies or computer design programs to make diplomas out of money, or order Poster 168 here.



You are going to love this enjoyable, potent activity that can reduce lying. While this device works with almost any age group, it won't be useful to use with the 11-14% of your class that may be conduct disordered. However, this terrific experiential activity can have a lot of impact on the balance of your students.

To conduct this activity, you need lots of big books, or other heavy objects. Dictionaries work really well. Before starting, remind students of the requirement for you to report any disclosures that include safety concerns.

To begin the activity, initiate a discussion of lying. Part way into the discussion, ask for a student to volunteer to help with a demonstration. Select a student who has already revealed a lot of past lies– but be sure to pick a youngster who revealed lies that are not serious, consequential, or personal. Do not select youngsters who reveal lies that are serious, intimate, or personal. Ask that student to briefly re-state the first lie. As they speak, hand them the first big book.

Ask the student to say their second lie, and hand them another book. Continue the process until the student is having great difficulty holding all the books, or until the student drops some books, or the student declines to continue.

Discuss with the class how lies weigh you down until they become impossible to carry. Thanks to special ed teacher, Chris Wells for this creative, fun device.



Students often face struggles that their teachers and counselors can only imagine. Many students don't disclose the nature of their distress, and that makes it very hard to intervene.

Here is a powerful intervention that can help you better understand what your students face. If you have non-writers, you can do the writing portion of this activity as each youngster dictates to you.

Ask students to capture their year as if they were writing a Twitter tweet, which is just 140 characters. Reducing a year to 140 characters may reveal information that could be more readily hidden in conversation. Once you know more about the child's world view, you will have a better idea how to reach and inspire them.

You can adapt this idea to Facebook by asking students to give a several sentence long status update summarizing their year. You may permit some students to use graphics or music instead of just words. Before using this intervention, be sure to remind students that if they reveal abusive situations, that you are required to take protective action.

This intervention is better suited for use by counselors; if you are not a counselor, consult with one before using the device.


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About Ruth Herman Wells

Author/Trainer Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. is the director of Youth Change Professional Development Workshops. In 2011, Ruth was rated as a Top 10 U.S. K-12 educational and motivational speaker by Speakerwiki and Speakermix. She is the author of several book series, a columnist, adjunct professor for two universities, and a popular keynote speaker and workshop presenter. Ruth's dozens of books includes Temper and Tantrum Tamers and Turn On the Turned-Off Student.