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Motivation in the Classroom - What Works and What Doesn’t

Motivation in the Classroom - What Works and What Doesn’t | ITTT | TEFL Blog

I remember taking Russian classes at a local language institute. My motivation initially was my love for Russian culture and a desire to move there. However, actually having the discipline to study the language proved to be a different reality. So with motivation in the classroom, I know from personal experience what can and cannot work - generally speaking. There are three key themes outlined here that address not only providing motivation to the students but also the students having their own motivation. These three themes are teachers motivation, students motivation, and classroom motivation.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Andrew M.

Motivation starts with the teacher.

The teacher's motivation needs to be something deeper than just job security or finances. Any teacher who goes into a classroom and goes through the 'motions' and has a dismal attitude about teaching whatever the subject is is going to see a reflection of this from the students. When the teacher expresses a love for the language and a desire to make sure each student gets the best possible experience it is my belief that the students will resonate with this. Not every student can be motivated and every student is different with their desire. Some students will not care no matter what, but this is more of a rarity than the norm. Motivation starts with the teacher. Let the students see this motivation and feel the inspiration. The students must look forward to coming to the classroom and seeing this teacher and what is going to be taught. A majority of the motivation is going to start with the teacher.

Many students who learn English do so for opportunity.

The students’ motivation, although not as significant as the teacher's motivation, is still sizably important. There has to be a reason why the student is attending the class. This reason has to be addressed to the teacher as to better gauge the student and their needs. The teacher needs to be sincere in teaching but this sincerity does not have to be true with the student. Many students who especially learn English do so for opportunity. Someone studying Latin, for instance, more than likely will do so for pleasure or some academic pursuit. English is one of the most dominant if not the most dominant language in the business world.

Therefore the teacher must retain the passion and mission of teaching English but also deal with the reality that there is some gain that students want from knowing English. Appealing to their motivation will make them more focused and dedicated to not only the teacher but the classroom as well. Students may not need to know every technical detail that goes into the English language, they may just need to know certain parts to make them successful in their pursuits or goals. The student's needs are what is important - not the teachers. There is a saying in the restaurant industry, "guest perception is a reality." The students are the guests and their perception is a reality, without the students, the teacher will have no job. Addressing the teachers motivation and understanding the student's motivation we now look at it as a whole with the classroom motivation.

A teacher you respect and trust can provide a motivation to do good and care about the subject.

Classroom motivation is where the magic happens. When there is synchronicity with the teacher and the students you will get the best results. When I was in schools it was often known what teacher or professor that you wanted to go see or be a student in their respected classroom. A teacher you respect and trust can provide a motivation to do good and care about the subject. When you have a classroom of students who care and want to learn the subject you have the motivation as a whole. This isn't the easiest thing to do.

My heart was there but my motivation often was not.

I have been a student in classrooms that have less motivation than more motivation. There have been few times in my life that I was in a classroom that had unified motivation, but those few times were magical. When I look back at studying Russian at my former language institute and my difficulties trying to learn the language it came down to the key element of motivation. My heart was there but my motivation often was not at the same degree and this coupled with different teachers, changing students body, and changing classroom often made it even harder for me to cement my motivation to fully learn the language.

If I would have had a stable teacher with a supporting class of students I believe my motivation could have been different. To truly give myself the motivation I so desperately seeked, I actually had to move to Russia. I furthermore seek to be a teacher of English so I can give the motivation to the students that I often felt like I either wasn't given or didn't have. Inspiration and motivation are both beautiful qualities of life that help us get us where we either need to be or want to be.

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