Motivating students is a challenge all teachers face. Every classroom consists of a wide array of students and each of them brings different learning styles, interests, and life experiences. That is what makes each classroom unique and special. There are several ways that teachers can tap into the individual learning styles and interests of students, thus making learning more fun and meaningful at the same time. One excellent way to start is by having strong classroom management skills; you can refine your natural talents in this area by following the tips found in Take Back That Class.
Here are some teaching ideas about how to motivate students:
Expectations. Teachers should set reasonable objectives for every lesson that allow their students to progress in the classroom. Expect them to achieve the objectives and they will. Studies show that students achieve at higher rates when their teachers have high expectations for them.
Uplifting. Keep the atmosphere in the classroom positive and uplifting. A cheerful and motivating environment will fuel the students’ intrinsic need to succeed in their endeavors.
Praise. Positive reinforcement is a tried and true method of teaching new material. Make sure to let the students know that they have done a good job. For example, you can give rewards or stickers for high test scores.
Variation. Because everyone learns differently, you will need to vary the means by which students earn rewards. Look at all aspects of the classroom when you are creating ways to reward the students. This includes test scores, daily lessons, and even behavior.
Success. Motivate students by showing them that they can be successful in the classroom. Teachers can differentiate instruction to meet the students' needs by adjusting the corresponding class work to the appropriate levels. Class work can be modified in a variety of ways: shortened assignments, extra response time or enrichment activities.
Relevance. Show students how what they are learning matters in real life. This is one of the most effective motivation techniques, especially for older students, as it lends meaning and purpose to their hard work. Guide them to discuss the new material, and allow students to draw on their own experiences to enrich and comprehend the new material.
Engaging Questions. Lead in with questions that will get the students talking. Encourage students to discuss the topic by bringing what they know about the topic to the classroom discussion. Clarify any questions that arise by encouraging them to talk to each other first and expand on their pre-existing knowledge.
Problem Solving. Teaching students how to overcome challenges is another important factor in keeping them motivated. If they have the skills to navigate the problems they encounter they will achieve more. One way to do so is to encourage the pupils to ask questions when they are unclear on new material.
Teamwork. This is one of the most important factors in motivating students. When they work together to succeed at a common goal it will help them to bond and work well together in the future. Having this cohesion in the classroom will boost productivity amongst the students and make for a more positive teaching environment.
Incorporate different learning styles. Use a variety of teaching strategies in the classroom to facilitate the lesson. Classroom discussions consist of whole group learning. Cooperative group learning allows students to work together on assignments in small groups. Direct instruction allows teachers to model lesson assignments first so students can work independently at their desks.
Rewards and Privileges. Rewards and privileges are great motivational tools for hard work. Teachers can use a variety of them to motivate student participation. Examples of privileges or rewards are as follows:
- Lunch with the teacher allows students to come back to the classroom and eat lunch with the teacher.
- Extra center time allows students to have a few more minutes at a computer lab.
- Pizza parties or snacks can be offered as incentives.
- A token-based economy is a great reward system that lets students earn points or “tokens” that can be cashed in for prizes, such as pencils or notepads.
Motivating students with the rewards listed above is particularly effective for younger students.
Removing Barriers to Learning. Another means of motivating students is to remove the roadblocks that keep them from learning. Even with the proper motivation, a pupil faced with a barrier they don’t have the learning tools to overcome will not succeed and will lose motivation due to that lack of success. Spend some classroom time removing educational obstacles so they can learn and grow. The following barriers to learning are factors that affect motivation.
- Communication. Students and teachers need to communicate their needs with each other. Having open lines of communication with your students will make a large difference when trying to motivate them to do their work.
- Safe Environment. Your students will learn best in a classroom that is free of debris. Keep the room tidy, with the help of your students! Requiring them to clean their own area of the classroom will also help them feel as though they are contributing to the group.
- Accommodations. Some students will have limitations. Once these have been communicated you will want to work around the issue. Making small changes to help the students learn will keep them motivated. For example, some pupils may need left-handed scissors in the classroom in order to complete their work.
- Seating. Plan the seating arrangements so that all the students have the same ability to retain new material. Some pupils learn best when they are at the front of the classroom instead of the back where they get easily distracted. Ensure that students are seated for optimal learning.
- Rules. Clear rules give students a safe, dependable system in which to work. Have the class rules posted in a conspicuous place. Go over the rules with the students at the beginning of the year. Then make sure that they are posted where the pupils can glance at them any time.
There are lots of ways to motivate students. Most importantly teachers can show students that they can be great learners. By addressing the various needs of the students inside each classroom, achievement levels will increase and so will their positive motivation.