With “back to school” already upon us, it is to be expected that you will have some students in your class that are feeling unmotivated and need a kick start into their new term of learning. Whether it be the start of a new year/term, or even for students that may appear unmotivated more frequently, in this blog we discuss a number of ways you can help with those who are just not “feeling it.”
Check out our top 11 tips to motivate students and help them get over their learning blues.
1. Identify Their Preferred Learning Style
Obviously, your class is not going to be filled with children that all learn in the same way, you will have a mix of visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners who each lean towards their own preferred method of learning. With all of this diversity in the classroom, it is only natural to see students with differing learning preferences. While you can’t deliver to each and every one of their individual needs, you can reach out to the majority by committing to using different learning techniques throughout the school terms.
They don’t even have to be complicated, try mixing up your lessons with these ideas:
- Mixing up group work & individual learning times.
- Create more visual learning, create lessons which don’t require their books.
- Offer students the chance to lead.
- Consider an outdoor lesson that can relate to the topic in hand.
- Create task-based learning, which can be revolved through several lessons in a row.
2. Stop Effusive Praise
It is recommended that students should be given specified, honest feedback and then left to carry on with their work again.
Make sure to catch your students in the act for their good work, no matter how small it may be, just let them know in a normal way that they are doing well. And, try to use specific phrases, such as “Great introduction”, “yes, that’s exactly right”, and “ spot-on description” for example.
Amazingly, it is said that you should simply walk away without looking back after praising the student because sometimes unmotivated students expect effusive praise and have become immune to receiving it. However, by providing specific feedback to them individually, and letting your students continue their work, this helps to provide them with a feeling of pride and a job well done.
3. Highlight The Positives
If any of your students are feeling unmotivated, this may well be due to the fact that they have experienced failure recently. Try to celebrate their wins and focus on the positives, for example, small things to notice such as increased vocabulary, leadership skills, grammar etc. Are all ways to make your students feel better and help them to rejuvenate their motivation towards learning.
4. Provide A Fear Free Classroom
Fear is not an effective motivator for students, in fact, students who worry about the wrath of their teacher’s aren’t likely to thrive at all. Instead, try and support your most anxious students and learn what has made their anxiety grow. Maybe it is from their family, a tough time out of school, or even sleep deprivation.
Make your classroom a place that is supportive, positive and provides enthusiasm.
5. Embrace Routine
Providing predictable moments in your lessons can be comforting to all your students, but more importantly, it also provides a sense of control for the unmotivated students in your classroom. This is due to them receiving a routine and being prepared for what is about to happen.
Some ideas may include checking homework, playing calming music while students are participating in individual work, include a “word of the day” moment, or even ending the class with a familiar warm-down activity. This could even be voted on by the class to decide which one they would like to do on that particular day.
6. Encourage Friendly Competition
If competition is used well, it can be one of the most effective motivators. So, why not consider using games to review grammar points and vocabulary for example. Always try and encourage lightheartedness throughout, as this will keep students engaged, trusted and will, more importantly, create a positive atmosphere.
7. Get Out Of The Classroom
Does your school premises have a garden, canteen or computer room? If the answer is yes, it is definitely worth considering occasional classes in a different work area. However, if moving your students isn’t possible, try creating a vibe that feels like you’re “getting out” of the classroom, by including music, films and podcasts into your lessons, or even invite special guests (such as an expert in the specific field you are studying) and have them teach a one-off guest lesson for you.
8. Allow Choice If You Can
Whether you allow students to have the choice between a listening or reading activity, selecting an assessment topic or even which problems they should be tackling first as they progress through the school year. Allows unmotivated students the chance to dig in and own their classroom experience and complete what they want to do.
This sort of technique is easier to implement when students are involved in creative, longer-term activities, or even task-based learning, which can naturally provide more opportunity to make their own decisions.
9. The 2×10 Technique
Simple in its own way, the 2×10 technique consists of students talking for two minutes, each day over a ten day period, utilise this technique with students that have challenging classroom behaviour, or the whole class if possible.
Consider revolving the conversation around them and what they specifically want to talk about, this way, you will learn more about your students and perhaps even be able to pinpoint areas that are troubling them.
10. Provide Responsibility
Younger students especially will enjoy being in charge of a particular classroom job, such as wiping the whiteboard, handing out worksheets, or packing a particular piece of equipment away.
When working with older students, get them to lead games, write their own work/research they’ve gathered up on the board, or even “teach” a five-minute lesson on a topic of their choice.
11. Track Progress
When it comes to looking over progress, it is natural for us as human beings to view the negatives rather than the positives. Tracking students individual progressions can potentially uncover their own perceptions towards their development. Use diagrams, colour-coding or simple charts to show them how far they’ve come, this can even come in handy when you do an evaluation on your own teaching progression. You can even do this as a whole class progression chart if you wish.
Try and incorporate some of these tips into your normal teaching life, and hopefully see all of your students engage more within your lessons!