3 Easy Ways to Motivate Students
Keeping students motivated to learn can be one of the biggest challenges a teacher may face. Without motivation, the students can become bored and complacent; they may even start to act out and disrupt the class. A few ways a teacher can keep their students motivated are by participating in games and physical activity, reward, and praise, and having a good attitude as a teacher.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Victoria O.
1. Use Games and Activities
Games and activities are a good source of motivation because they are fun. Students are usually excited to play games, especially younger students. Games get students physically involved in a lesson. Getting up and moving around improves blood circulation after sitting in a desk for a while. Games create healthy competition and give an immediate goal for the students to work for- to win. Competition helps with memory retention, as the students who win are likely to remember how they won, the right answers that got them the points. Even the students who don’t win learn as they play, and they are motivated to improve to be better for next time. Games and activities also provide the students with camaraderie and support as they work together to achieve the goal. Like muscle memory, the students are likely to retain the subject matter of the activity because they will associate the two with each other, ultimately making everyone a winner.
2. Praise and Reward
For some students, competition could be potentially discouraging if they don’t perform well in an activity, but they may excel in other areas. Some students are of the mentality to perform well for teacher, peer, and parent recognition. A motivating teacher will know when to give the students rewards or praise when appropriate. Rewards are tangible feedback that inspires students and gives them something to work toward. It can be something more immediate than a grade, but as simple as a pat on the back or verbal praise, to keep them going until they reach the desired goal. Being rewarded for doing something good in a class or having a correct answer will make them feel successful and instill higher confidence in themselves and their abilities. Students who are rewarded or given praise for doing good behavior are more likely to repeat the good behavior in the future (Whitaker). Some examples of a reward may include stickers, stamps, showcasing the students’ work, or be able to sit in a comfortable chair, and of course the age-old “good job!”
3. Have a Positive Attitude
Another influential aspect of teaching that can motivate students is the teacher’s attitude. Students can often start to question why they need to learn whatever the subject matter is. They may not see so far into the future to understand why or how the class they are taking will be useful. If the teacher is excited about teaching the material, the students are more likely to match the teacher’s enthusiasm to learn about what is making the teacher so excited. The teacher’s attitude toward change can help as well. Many factors can inhibit a teacher’s enthusiasm and motivation. The students may not be responding well to a planned lecture or worksheet. On the other hand, maybe the students are responding well to an activity, keep the exercise going as planned but maybe introduce something a little new or to let a student take the lead by reviewing with a class discussion or something similar. Trusting the students can help, giving them some responsibility like collecting worksheets or feeding the class pet (if applicable). Giving them a sense of duty and ownership can keep them engaged and attentive. A teacher with a good attitude does not always have to be the center of attention.
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Motivation can be the key to a successful class. Don’t be afraid to incorporate other ways to keep students motivated to learn. A teacher with a good attitude toward the students is essential to student success. Rewards and praise help keep the students going and gives them an immediate goal to work toward. Activities are fun and can make the students forget they are even working at all. Finally, a good teacher knows that ways to improve learning are constantly evolving. An intuitive, innovative teacher will always be on the lookout for new ways to introduce the topic, the activity, the lesson, and the class. The key: Don’t stagnate.
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