Thursday, April 16, 2009

Motivating Students

As the end of school approaches, it becomes extremely important to motivate yourself and your students. Especially after MAP Testing it seems that many students check out for the year, yet we still have four weeks of school to go. How do we motivate our students to continue learning right through to the very last day of school?
The above YouTube video titled Just for Teachers: Motivating Your Students Through a Supportive Environment houses five ways to motivate yourself and students.
First, be excited about your material and your area!!! When you are excited it rubs off on the students. They will not always love the content or assignments, but many times they can get on board when the teacher is excited. Secondly, teachers must always be respectful. We expect students to respect us, so we must expect the same thing of ourselves. Next, effective teachers use humor. Now, I agree with this to a certain extent, humor can be a teaching tool in many classrooms, but I also feel some classrooms can not handle humor. I believe the teacher must evaluate each class and decide whether or not to use humor as a motivator. Clear expectations are another must have in the classroom. Students do not respond well to unclear expectations. Students will become defensive about grades and behavior issues if the teacher does not have clear expectations. I learned this the hard way my first year of teaching. A teacher must explain clearly what is expected and stick to those expectations throughout the year. I now use rubrics that specifically line out the expectations of each assignment. This has cut down on much defensiveness from students and parents. Finally, teachers should focus on learning, not just grades and teaching to tests. If students develop the love of learning (not love of getting A's- this doesn't hurt either) early they will most likely carry that with them as they enter what I like to call the "real world." If students just learned the information to get by, most likely this is a pattern they will keep as well. Don't we want our students to succeed in life? So, we need to instill our passion for learning in them.
I also have a few pointers for motivation as the school year nears its end.
1. Allow for time off. It is ok to take a day off here an there to give the students and yourself a break. Add in a fun activity that goes with the lesson. I usually allow the students to play pictionary as a group, because I teach art.
2. Ignore Complainers. Complainers bring other down with them. Be upbeat yourself and voice your enthusiasm, and most likely the complainers (whether students or other teachers) will find someone else to complain to.
3. Keep your area nice and tidy. Ok- this may be just for me, but I feel better about my work and myself when me work area is clean. Do some spring cleaning. Get rid of things that are just taking up space and gathering dust literally. You would be surprised what this can do for your spirit.

Dubguy1988. (2008, December 5). Just for Teachers: Motivating Your Students Through a Supportive Environment. Video retrieved from the YouTube website:


  1. Katarina:

    I found a couple of articles that back up your post:

    It all comes down to passion, pure and simple. Now I'm not a grizzled and seasoned teaching veteran, but I've been doing it for a little bit. You are always going to run into roadblocks in things that you want to do to change "the system". You're not always going to win, but that's not the point. Do you enjoy what you do? Do you live to see the "light switch" flip on in your student's eyes when they finally get it? Do you see everyday as an opportunity to make a difference or do you wake up counting down the days to the next "vacation"? These are questions that we need to ask ourselves. My personal opinion is that if you're not there to do what you love, why are you wasting everyone's time? I really liked your post. Hope you have a good weekend.

  2. Students need to feel safe. They need an environment where they can be creative, where they feel they can ask questions. We all get burnt out. Between jobs and family issues like financial issues in the world today, it is hard to be happy. Even students feel the tension created at home, while all of us are under this financial crisis. But happy and engaging are two different things. Try out things, some will work and some won't. Ask you students what they want to do.

    Linda Burns