Three Tips for Engaging Students Who Do Not Want to Participate

kids involved in extra curricular activities

Written by our Kodely Leader Arianna Thalheimer we want to highlight some useful classroom management tips!

One thing is for certain in every class you will teach, you will always have at least one student who won’t actively participate. You put tons of effort into the lesson and think it is super fun, but you feel like no matter what you do, this student will not engage and participate. Kodely after school is a great way to engage students who don’t want to participate in traditional after-school activities. 

If you are struggling to engage a student who does not want to participate, we are providing you some tips to maximize their participation.

3 Tips to Actively Engage Students Who Do Not Want to Participate:

  • Give the student a leadership role in class. 

Whether it be the teacher’s helper for the lesson or supplies monitor, giving this student a leadership role will help earn their buy-in and make them more invested in the lesson. Students love to be leaders in the room, and they will work hard to be good examples of leaders for their peers when given the opportunity. 

So, if a student isn’t willing to participate, try giving them a leadership role in the activity and telling them that you chose them for that role because you know they will be great at it. Your confidence in them and their desire to be good role models for others will help motivate them to participate. 

  • Provide choice whenever possible. 

A major reason students choose not to participate is they do not feel interested in the activity. Boredom is your worst nightmare as a teacher. By offering students a choice of activity, they are more likely to find something that interests them and feel a sense of agency in your classroom. 


Students are far more likely to engage in an activity they choose versus one they feel forced to do. Choices can be small things like choosing what they would like their video game sprites to look like, to bigger things like which code they would most enjoy attempting. In general, providing choices makes getting the buy-in from your students much easier. 

  • Get to know your students. 

Students are much more likely to participate in social emotional learning activities that align with their passions and interests, so learn what moves your students! This is as easy as including a fun attendance question every day or asking students to share a highlight from their week. Students will appreciate that you care about the unique, wonderful person that they are. 

They will also respect that you took the time to get to know them. Once you learn specific things about them, include those things in the lesson when possible. Kodely after school provides an opportunity for teachers to learn more about the individual interests and strengths of each student, and use that information to create personalized learning plans for them. 

For example, if you learn that your student who does not participate easily loves baseball, then encourage them to create a baseball code! Or, if they love Minecraft, create a Minecraft-like activity for your students to engage in! Getting students to participate is so much easier after you learn key details about the person they are and you start to relate to them.

By giving students leadership roles in the class, providing choices whenever possible, and getting to know the students in your room personally, you will have much less difficulty getting all of your students to participate. 

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