Vicky Loras

Motivating our students – Vicky Loras

The Teacher’s Role As MotivatorVicky Loras

Motivation – one of my favourite words in education. It plays a very important role in the classroom, making learning a pleasant and creative experience.

I am a great proponent of the notion that if the teacher is motivated and enthusiastic, that he or she can work wonders in the classroom. Students can immediately realise which teacher is there because they love being there and which one is the opposite.

The presence of a motivated teacher can be so important for students. Many are the times when students came into my class with problems of their own or with a low interest in learning, but then told me afterwards that they saw how happy I was to be in class with them. They really appreciated it and it gave them the boost they needed.

Once, a student came in looking rather worried; I thought he must have had some kind of personal issue eating away at him. He later started laughing and smiling with me and the others, and at the end he came up and said: “I came into class today feeling I could not handle it and when I saw your smile, and I started talking to the other students, I completely forgot about my problems!”

A great source of motivation can come from good, constructive and genuine praise. Taking students aside after the lesson, or even during the lesson, and letting them know where they are doing well or remarking on something they did great that day can work wonders. You can immediately see them light up!

Sometimes teachers focus on mistakes their students make or on what students do or not do. Sometimes we tell them, “Be careful with your gerunds”, or “Today you didn’t use the present tenses that well”, or “Your relative clauses need work”.  It is important to remember to give praise where it is due! Regardless of age, people benefit from, and are lifted up by, knowing that they are doing well and in what areas they are doing especially well.

If educators are lifelong learners and are sharing their learning experiences with their students, that can also boost the students’ motivation. Students see that their teachers are also interested in becoming better and empathize with that. That empathy can develop into something of great significance. The learners have in front of them someone who is also in the process of learning: someone who can understand them.

Two months ago, I was attending two courses in pedagogy at the college where I teach in the evenings. These courses were in German – a language I am currently learning. My students were interested in seeing how I faced difficulties (and there were lots of them, I assure you!), in how I studied and in what gave me the strength to continue. Sharing these things with my students were moments in which we bonded more. They could see that I also have problems in my studies and got to hear how I managed to find solutions to these problems. That’s very powerful.

Working to motivate students takes patience and tempered persistence. It’s been my experience that students acknowledge and appreciate an educator who cares not only about their learning, but also about them as individuals.

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Vicky Loras

My name is Vicky Loras and I am an English Teacher, born in Toronto, Canada. For ten years, my sisters (Eugenia and Christine) and I owned an English School in Greece, The Loras English Academy, but I have now moved with my eldest sister to Switzerland, where I continue to work as an English teacher. I believe in teaching as an ongoing learning process, both for the benefit of the students and the teacher. For that reason I love attending workshops and conferences! Outside class you can usually find me at bookshops or libraries, I absolutely love books!

13 thoughts on “Motivating our students – Vicky Loras”

  1. Hi Vicki, I particularly liked the way you shared your German learning experiences with your learners. Not only does this put you on an equal footing, but it offers stories, case studies, and metaphors that relate to the down-to-earth experience of language learning – much more accessible than abstract theorising about second language acquisition. And, therefore, packing a much more powerful motivational charge. Love it!

    1. Hi Scott,

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting, I agree that the practical aspect always helps and students like to hear about their teachers’ language learning as well – I really appreciate it. I am happy you liked the post!

      Best regards,

  2. Hi Vicky,
    I could only nod while reading your post :-) The nodding got especially vehement when I got to the part where you wrote how a teacher who himself/herself is a learner can motivate students by giving an example. So true!
    Enjoy your summer!

    1. Hi Sirja!

      So sorry for my late reply – thank you so much for your comment! I am happy you liked the post. That is one of my mottos, that educators should be lifeling learners – and enjoy it!

      Many thanks,

  3. What a wonderful blog post! It’s true, the attitude and mood of the teacher affects the mood of the students! Whenever I was in a bad mood, there were problems in my classroom. Last year I was lucky to work in a school with a good principal, which made me go to school in a very good mood every day. I remember, for example, one day (8:20 a.m., first lesson of the day): I enter the classroom with a big smile on my face, having on my mind all the creative activities I will use, and one of my sleepy 17-year-old students says: “Come on Miss, where do you find all this good mood at 8 o’clock in the morning?” They soon got engaged by my activities, though!

  4. From the very beginning we must establish a friendly learning environment where the students feel comfortable and secure enough to express themselves without the fear of being ridiculed or scolded for making mistakes. Students feel insecure in a second language and quite often avoid taking chances with new language. Setting up pair and group work boosts the students’ confidence. Weaker students get help from their peers, shyer and less confident students find it easier to speak in the privacy of the pair or group than in front of the whole class.

  5. Vicki, I totally agree with you. Just being happy to see my students has always been my secret that helped me attract more students to my class. Emotional bond with students is very important. Even when I had a private lesson at home I prepared as if I was waiting for an important long waited guest. Apart from thoroughly preparing for the lesson, I made sure that I looked good and happy. It immediately melted the ice in the hearts of the shy or non motivated students. I always thought about making students feel at home at my lessons. I’m using the past tense because I am not working at the moment but planning to continue my teaching career online.

  6. I also feel that motivation plays a crucial role in inspiring students to do their best. As teachers, we have the unique opportunity to directly uplift our students, give praise and motivate them to perform according to their optimal ability. I also believe that motivation needs to take place both within the classroom as well as outside it. I usually make a point of speaking and motivating students in the hallway, on the play ground and even in the cafeteria. Very often, students are speechless and don’t quite know how to respond but with time they seem to enjoy the attention.

    Thanks for sharing.

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