Before you can motivate your students, you yourself must first be motivated – that’s the first step. Students can tell if their teacher is in a bad mood, if they’re tired, or if they aren’t happy with the material. Strong feelings rub off; if you’re enthusiastic about your lesson, you’ll make your students enthusiastic. If you’re excited about a project, they will be too. For some tips on keeping yourself motivated, read up on iTDi’s posts on staying healthy and motivated.
This time, however, we’ll take a look at some ways we can help our students.
Know your students
This is so basic yet so neglected. If you treat your students as mere names and numbers on your register, then you might as well start looking at the classified ads for something that will suit your talents better. Show you care, show you have feelings and they will reciprocate. Try to adapt your lessons to their interests. If you’re using a coursebook, be bold enough to modify or supplement it. Why do a text on Madonna if they’re more interested in Lady Gaga? Why discuss polar bears when the pandas are more real to them? Students will have more interest if they can relate to the topic.
Set realistic expectations, appropriate to their level. Go step by step. Set achievable short-term goals and praise them when they managed to reach the goals. The higher you get, the further you’ll fall. Go gradually. If they fall, help them up. By all means, push them, but know their strengths and their weaknesses, know their limits and push them just beyond that. Guide them. Encourage them. Demonstrate how tasks can be done.
Sing high praise
As mentioned above, praise them for accomplishing their tasks. Display their work on the walls. Consider setting up a class blog where their projects can be posted and discussed. Encourage parents and other classes to participate. Promote it via your PLN (Personal Learning Network) – perhaps you can succeed in getting students from different parts of the world to visit and comment on the blog.
Let’s work together!
Involve the students in creating rules and punishment. Set roles and rotate them. Put them up on the wall so that everyone knows their own responsibilities. Examples are: marking attendance, tidying the class, wiping the board, posting to the class blog, and collecting homework.
At the end of some classes, try asking them these questions:
- What have you learnt today?
- What did you like about today’s class?
- What did you not like about today’s class? How would you change this?
- What would you like to do in the next class?
These questions may have some unexpected results. Click here to see what it has done for a couple of teachers.
Do group work often. Relating to one another is important and sometimes they learn more from their peers than from the teacher.
Extend the classroom
From time to time, if possible, take the students on a field trip, or even to the schoolyard or playground, anywhere outside the confining classroom walls. They are in the classroom for many hours and it can be very mind-energising to have a class outdoors, to feel the breeze, to see the sky and to touch the earth.
Try your best to create a positive helpful learning environment. Be accessible. Let them know that they can approach you for anything that is troubling them. I know teachers who take advantage of social networks to maintain accessibility out of classroom hours but not everyone is willing to go this distance. How much you’re willing to give is up to you but knowing that there’s a teacher who cares for them can be extremely motivating. And motivated students can be incredibly motivating for us, too.
Without the egg, there can be no chicken.