Addressing Students’ Needs and Interests

It is essential for teachers to be able to address the needs of their students.  As long as teachers continue to meet these needs, as well as meet local, state and national standards, schools have the capacity to remain relevant in the 21st century.  In order to gain students’ attention, teachers can survey student interests at the beginning of the year.  Therefore, teachers can incorporate appropriate and interesting material into the curriculum for their students.  For example, if you allow students to take control of the content with a progressive, experiential approach, they will have invested interest in the curriculum, as well as feel a sense of responsibility in their academic achievement.

One middle school English teacher I have substituted for has actually incorporated the popular teen series “The Hunger Games” into his reading curriculum.  His students seem excited to come to class and participate in the discussions.  Not only is he reaching his students through the book series, most of the students have seen the movie, which was recently released as well.  It would be great to be able to take a field trip as a class to the movies to see “The Hunger Games.”  At the middle school level (and really, at any school level), it is a powerful and effective tool to be able to link students’ social interests to their academic interests.  They are still learning the SOLs through this new material (the teacher made various connections), but in a way that engages them in a whole new learning atmosphere.

In Chapter 13, we discussed several needs of youth that should be addressed by teachers.  It is essential not only to address the SOLs, but also the long-term social and career skills that need to be achieved by students in order for your students to be successful in life.

Ten Imperative Needs of Youth (Ornstein et al., 2011):

If teachers develop students’ skills and/or attitudes, they help their students enhance the following:

  1. Success in your career
  2. Maintained health and physical fitness
  3. Knowledge of the rights and duties of an American citizen
  4. Success in family life
  5. Knowledgeable consumer behavior
  6. Knowledge of science and humankind
  7. Appreciation of the arts
  8. Appropriate use of leisure time
  9. Developed respect for ethical values
  10. Ability to think rationally and communicate effectively


Ornstein, A. C., Levine, D. U., Gutek, G. L., & Vocke, D. E. (2011). Foundations   of Education. (11 ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub Co.

3 responses to “Addressing Students’ Needs and Interests

  1. The English teacher’s success is a great example that shows how important it is that education stay relevant to the times. If teachers are trying to use the same tired examples students have heard over and over, the material is not going to be retained as if it were related to The Hunger Games, or whatever is popular in the present.

  2. I think asking what the students are interested in and actually taking their input to create a lesson would benefit the student and teacher. The students would be more motivated to be in class and do the work, and the teacher will be more respected by the students and probably get to grade better work than if the lesson was about something boring to the students. Helping students realize what they are interested in can also help them make decisions about their future career. Everyone needs to work, but we should strive finding a job that we enjoy. Once the students find their own niche, they can apply it to their future, making school very relevant.

  3. I love the idea of incorporating modern literature into our educational canon. Students are so much more engaged when they can actually identify with the text they’re reading, or more simply: they actually pay attention to what they are reading!
    And, of course, I love the inclusion of “Maintained health and physical fitness”… the mind and body ARE connected! It’s important to train both. — That’s my little soapbox moment.
    Great post, Anne!