Motivating Students in Different Learning Environments
The simple answer yes it is very important because a motivated student will often learn more quickly. There are many factors to consider when dealing with students and motivation. Such as class size, age ranges, reasons for being there, etc.
When we talk about learning I do not think the subject we are teaching makes any difference but the motivation keeps the same importance for you and student.
I already have 3 years' experience in teaching a particular subject which is Scuba Diving and I only teach in English too many different nationalities of all ages. I also have different environments in which I have to teach in such as classroom, swimming pool, and the open sea. Each has its unique challenges and problems when it comes to motivating the student.
Let’s take a look at these challenges and potential problems and how I can help my students stay motivated.
Motivation in the classroom
I will split the age range of my students into 3 groups that I have found to have the most differences when it comes to motivation.
1. Age group eight to twelve
This group can be very difficult in the classroom as the reading material can be complicated and overwhelming for them. With all students, we try as much as possible to split the time between being in the classroom and the water to minimize boredom in the classroom. For these younger students, they often have parents who are divers so the can already have parental motivation and some knowledge experience. Keeping the lessons short and simplifying the language is also a great help.
Using visual aids such as actual equipment, videos, pictures are also of great benefit in keeping motivation high. Take regular breaks and chat with the student about any experience such as holidays or just simply watching their parents go diving is a great way to find out how much self-motivation they may have.
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2. Teenage to thirty
This group has some of the problems as group 1 but also other problems such as being more aware of their limitations and if they have a partner who is a diver then they are often pressured into giving it a try. I always start the class by getting to know all the students and why they are here. That way I have a good idea of who is going to need the most help. With more than one student I have worked together so they get to know each other but also come up with answers by themselves. I am always in the classroom and still often have to simplify questions in such a way as to not give away the answer. And again taking short breaks and talking about how well they are doing gives them the self-confidence to improve their self-motivation and relieve any fears they may have brought with them.
3. Forty to fifty +
This group can be the easiest group when it comes to motivation in the classroom. They are often highly self-motivated either through their work or going back to some form of education and know that classroom work can be an essential part of learning anything so they are prepared mentally to knuckle down and get on with the job in hand. As the teacher, I am still always around to explain or simplify anything they don’t understand and of course, they still get regular breaks where we can chat about why they are here. This group as with group 1 can be the most excited students as they attempting something they have either wanted to try for a long time or simply because they are determined to keep testing themselves later in life.
Things to remember, be a reassuring presence in the classroom, get to know the students, making it as varied and as interesting as possible.
Motivation in the swimming pool.
Now I have an environment that can cause motivational issues as well as the student being required to perform tasks to a certain standard of competence.
For students aged eight to ten, this is the only water environment they can enter only students aged eleven ( in some countries ) and above can enter open sea conditions. For the smaller and younger students, we keep everything quite simple. We tell them the very basic instructions of how the equipment works, sometimes they don’t even wear the equipment because we can make it float and they are still able to go below the surface while breathing and swimming. Most young students have no fear and accomplish things with such ease that it is amazing to teach them. But we still keep building their confidence to boost their self-motivation as much as possible. Some will be scared of the water and are very uncertain that breathing underwater is possible. We take very small steps introducing them to the underwater world and constantly praise them even if they still have problems. We can introduce games and activities to keep things fun and interesting while at the same time they are completing the task without thinking too much about them.
Some of the most difficult and yet rewarding students have come from the age group teenage to thirty. These students often have very low motivation and already thinking about ways to fail themselves or simply give up. This is when your motivational skills are tested the most. You have to be the teacher and give praise when they accomplish the smallest of the task that they thought impossible, you have to be a shoulder to cry on when they breakdown in frustration and you have to a guidance counselor and maybe get them to realize they are doing this for all the wrong reasons. Praise is a must and extremely important, keeping it fun is the second most important as they can sometimes be in the pool for as much as five hours, ok on a warm day but your job becomes harder when it’s a cold day.
Forty to fifty + often have the easiest time, as I mentioned before their self-motivation is often very high and they are more used to controlling their uncertainties. Problems can still arise and boosting their confidence and motivation is still a high priority as well as keeping it fun. The older generation sometimes doesn’t have much time to behave like teenagers so humor and games come as a welcome relief most of the time.
Things to remember, simplify instruction and task whenever possible, praise often, make use of games, be prepared to take time out to talk and listen to the students, be aware that not everyone can be a diver.
This is where the real challenges can play a big role in keeping motivation high.
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1. Eleven to twelve
Being more adventurous and unafraid to try something new is a big advantage, for you as the teacher and for them as the student. Motivational problems can often occur even before you enter the water. They often have to wake up very early because it’s a long way to the diving site. The weather can cause big problems such as wind and rain. Most young students have never been on a boat this small so often can be nervous or prone to being seasick. Once in the water and faced with looking down at what can be a depth of thirty or forty meters can also shake their confidence and motivation to carry on. Stay with your students all day, they often have parents with them and if the parents see you taking extra care with their child then they are more relaxed and the student also feels more comfortable. Give them a half seasick tablet or even a placebo because most seasick cases are often caused because the student is convinced they will be sick so anxiety plays a big part in eroding motivation. Make the boat trip fun for them. If the parents seem nervous to talk with them and if necessary keep the student busy and away from them as much as possible.
2. Teenage to thirty
This group falls into three types of people. * Nervous but competent but still looking for a reason to quit. * Overconfident because they are hiding their fear. * Confident and completely competent.
We have some of the same challenges as before such as a small boat, seasick, the first time being in deep water, so keeping them occupied and thinking about the tasks ahead helps a great deal. Praise them for their previous hard work keeps the motivation constant that they can do this. Even if you expect good weather a seasick pill will not hurt to help boost confidence. Look through the fish book to get them excited about the day and the adventure they going on. Share your own experiences and funny stories. Drill the tasks so they can complete them on the boat before attempting them underwater again. Reassure them that you will be next to them at all times.
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3. Forty to fifty+
This group often has experience with the type of boat you use from previous holidays and know what it’s like to enter deep water either through snorkeling tours or just swimming. They accept environmental conditions like bad weather or low visibility are beyond our control and have had experience with everyday life that there will be good days and bad days. Praising them is still a high priority for their accomplishments as this is a very physical undertaking and some of the students are not in their prime or may even have some slight disability to overcome. Keeping them occupied and practicing the skills help reinforce the motivation of being able to complete the tasks and have a fun day at the same time.
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I hope I have shown here how important motivation is to the student, whatever age of the student or the confidence the student has, you have many ways to build motivation and continue to improve it no matter what the subject matter or environmental conditions happen to be. Motivation can often be the key to success or failure for a student and the teacher.
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