4 C’s? My Students Aren’t On Board. Yet.

I live in a very suburban area that is about 20 minutes away from everything in the “big city.” Most folks have at least one car, if not two or three. Things are spread out. Few things are within walking distance. There are some farms, some big lots, and pockets of businesses and stores. And recently I’ve noticed more busses. I believe in mass transit, and the importance of moving lots of people in efficient and environmentally friendly ways. Great ideas. Useful ideas. Forward-thinking ideas. Ideas whose time has come.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that the buses run empty. This is not a longitudinal study of ridership over time. This is just that I’ve noticed there aren’t many people on the buses I see. So what do you do if it’s a great idea, but nobody’s on the bus?

I see these buses as analogous to some of the experiences in my classroom.

I say, “Hey, try this, create this for the world, connect with these folks on social media, communicate effectively and visually to educate, entertain, and inspire. Consider how this impacts you and other people. Share. You might say it the perfect way for someone else to understand. Fill up the google box with all the awesome that is you.”

And sometimes with some students I get responses that don’t fill the bus. They say, “Meh, I don’t know about that. How long does it have to be? Do we get graded on that? What if I do it wrong? Can’t we just get like a worksheet to fill out? When is it due? I’m just trying to get it done.”

So what do you do if it’s a great idea, but nobody’s on the bus?

Maybe like the buses, I’ve got the right ideas, but the “riders” aren’t ready, or they don’t see the benefits of getting on board. Maybe we haven’t laid the groundwork to convince them of the benefits. Maybe the other options are more attractive, easier, and the way we’ve always done it. Maybe we’ve got to pare down and then scale it up before we get the fleet running full force.

A smaller bus? The bus will be more full if the bus isn’t as big.

Maybe we don’t need everyone to ride. Maybe we need opportunities for some to ride and also a path for some others to take their more common, traditional route. Maybe a focus on those who are willing to try, and making it a great experience for them. Noticing who is on board and challenging them at their level might be the way to get there. Yes, giving everyone the opportunity to try, but looking for constant progress for those who are willing could be the answer. “Try a free ride, you might like it.” And then, “I see you’re likin’ it, let’s keep going…”

That sounds less frustrating than throwing our hands up and saying, “They’re not ready.”

I think I can help build capacity on this for many students. It’s going to take some work, but I think I can get them from point A to point B.