Motivating students is a tough task for teachers. Once students reach a certain age, they no longer feel the need to attend school, let alone enjoy it. It is up to teachers to motivate their students. Without at least minimal motivation, your teaching will fall flat and there will be little or no real learning in your classroom. How do you currently try and motivate students?
First rule of student motivation
Your classroom must be an enjoyable experience. Student motivation will be next to impossible if your classroom does not have an inviting atmosphere.
What is your demeanor? Are you excited about teaching? Glad that you’re there? Happy to see the students? Excited about your subject or grade? You must be warm, inviting, and enthusiastic about your job. You must show up everyday well prepared.
What does your classroom look like? Sterile? Prison? Blank walls? Your classroom needs color and excitement. Put up posters. Put up students’ work. You need to hook the students as soon as they set foot in your classroom.
Making your classroom an enjoyable place to learn is actually half the battle.
Students are motivated with rewards
Students need a reward for learning. No, this is not prizes or candy. That may work to get a task completed, but not motivate for real learning. Remember, we are looking to motivate students into learning, not necessarily completing a task.
The reward for learning that you strive for is a students satisfaction for learning. That’s it. For example, you are teaching the Civil War. You want a student to sit back and say, “Man, that Abe Lincoln was one cool dude.”
Okay, a little corny, but it makes the point. If that goes on in your classroom, you are virtually there! But it’s not easy. It’s not easy because teachers are taught to dish out a task, test, boom, done. Not very motivating, is it?
Tips for motivating students
- Students need a reason for doing the assignment. Give them one. Each teacher will have to come up with this on their own. No help here is given because if you can’t think of a reason for teaching something, you can’t motivate students.
- Here are some hints. How does it affect them? Does it make them a better citizen? Learner? Relate it to their life. Relate it to their future. Relate it to their ego.
- Relate it to current events. You cannot just say, “Because.”
- Praise goes a long way. This is the reward you can give out frequently and it’s free. Write notes on their papers. Say things to them as you walk around the room. Call everybody by name and encourage them. Put student work on the walls. Put a piece of work from ALL students at various times. Call home and praise your students to their parents.
- If your students have a reason to learn the material and get praise from you, that’s really all motivation they need. It sounds simple, but remember it is hard. Over the course of the school year, you will get better.
- Choose your opening to the lesson in such a way that it makes the students want to know more. It may sound silly, but a story can be a very effective way.
- Using the Lincoln example, “Let me tell you about a guy whose mother died when he was nine. His first girlfriend got sick and she died. Eventually he became president.”
- Once your students want to know more, you have them hooked. They are motivated! You want your students to go home everyday and say, “Guess what I learned?”
- Recapping student motivation, first is you and your classroom. Next comes a reason for learning. You then create a curiosity about what is to come. You do all those, your students can’t help but be motivated in your classroom. And the best thing about this, is it make your discipline problems be few and far between