Tutoring Tips: How to Deal with Sleepy Students

- sleeping in class can become a very bad habit -
I bet if my classmates, close friends or even teachers read this, they'd laugh hard because I myself have to admit that I slept a lot in class during the past few years in school. It became a habit. And yes, bad habits die hard. Nonetheless, from my very own personal experience, there are actually a few things that are effective against sleepyheads (like me) - not splashing water! doesn't really work.. Besides that, I also worked as a tutor (teaching additional classes) in a secondary school twice, so some of my techniques have been proven useful. Believe me, telling them to wash their faces or drink water is useless..seriously.

So here are some of the things a tutor/teacher can do to wake their sleepy students in class:

1. Call their names
It is said that people like to hear their own names. When a student hears his/her name, he/she will actually wake up or at least reply. One reason might be that the student feels embarrassed being an attention to the class since the whole class also hears the person's name being called. Another reason might be that the person feels embarrassed to the tutor/teacher (but that seldom happens). Besides that, the student might feel less sleepy knowing that he or she is actually given attention by the tutor/teacher. Kind of like appreciation. Bear in mind that after you call a student's name, you have to say something else too. Or else, the student will fall back to sleep after the attention to him/her is gone.

2. Ask them a question
This is a good way to actually get the students' hearts pumping. Ask them something, especially things that you just thought in class when they were asleep. It's as if you're giving them a "You deserve it!" especially when they can't answer your question. It also forces their brains to work to find the answer to your question which makes them less sleepy. Better still, make them write or do something on the whiteboard like answering question with calculations. My Physics lecturer used this as a way (by also using in-class exercises for exam marks) and it really worked. I got an A!

3. Make them say something
Starting a short conversation with them can make them start talking a bit and less sleepy. I myself feel less sleepy when talking. Ask things like, "what did you do last night?", "you sure are very sleepy huh?" or "do you understand this?" in a friendly manner.

4. Make them do something
Such as teaching their friends in front of the class about how to answer a specific question or doing an experiment. This is actually related to neurolinguistic programming. Some students (like mua) are kinesthetic learners, people who can't just sit down and listen to not-so-interesting stuff. They need to do something actively. That'll keep them awake for sure.

5. Explain things in front of their faces
Ok..not that close. But you get the picture. It's about giving them some attention. It's also a part of your goal too to make them understand what you're teaching. Well, I believe so.

These should be enough I suppose. If not, that student must be reaaaally tired and there's nothing much you can do about it except telling the others to help teach the student later. Wait, we're not finished yet. Apart from the things you can do, there are also things you should avoid in waking up a sleepy student!

1. Anger them
Well, making them angry can actually keep them awake with all the blood pumping in them. But then they will not listen to what you teach. So, what's the purpose of waking them up? Secondly, they can actually fall asleep again out of frustration towards you.

2. Embarrass them
Calling their names in front of the whole class might embarrass them a bit but if you tell them to do something embarrassing like licking the floor (are there really teachers who do this??), then you're going the wrong way.

3. Arouse any other negative feelings & thoughts
You see. The point I'm trying to bring here is that students need the attention and activity (especially brain activity) in class, and in making sure your objective is met (which is to make them understand), these are some fundamentals you'll need to observe. Builduing a sense of respect and appreciation in students is also very useful in making them listen to you. One point to note, even if they do listen to you out of anger, your relationship with students might deteriorate and you wouldn't like that outside of class. It's a matter of interpersonal relationship..oooo.

So that's about it. Keep to the positive ways, smile and do your best to help those students out. They need you, some just don't know it yet. :D

- we all have that sleepless night once in a while but it's best to just go to sleep at night -

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