Motivating Students

There are several ways to motivate students with our personality, the subject matter, specific teaching styles, and assignments and tests. I gravitated towards the strategies that I believe would be helpful for my younger educational self. 

Make the course personal enough to motivate students

I write students congratulatory letters/notes when they do well on a test. I have noticed that this is valuable in primary schools (grades K-12). Students during this span are transitioning at each stage. Support and encouragement go a long way in determining where they see themselves in their future academic careers. Also, developmentally children/teens flourish in an environment that encourages their strengths instead of environments that exploit their weaknesses. 

However, why does this encouragement slowly decrease as the child/teen ages? Studies have also explained that employees express higher interest in their work when they are given positive feedback about their performance. People need this encouragement at any developmental stage in their life, and as educators, we have high stakes in how students perceive their intellect, intelligence, and self-efficacy.

Create a safe learning environment to motivate students

Expressing to students that failures are essential to learning and growing is important. Our educational system has developed in a direction that praises success and diminishes failure. There is a heavy presence and push for academic achievement (GPA, test scores, research, internships). Does this environment open the space for possible failure, misunderstanding, or uncertainty? 

Motivating Students
Motivating Students: Inviting Environemnt

I have noticed that myself and other students I have worked alongside find it challenging to fail or to be seen as a failure. That may come from extrinsic motivators or intrinsic pressures on the self. However, reality testing or trial and error practice helps make people intrinsically stronger. I believe intrinsic motivations are more beneficial for students in the long run.

Statements like “don’t second guess yourself,” “say what is on your mind,” and “it is okay to have a different perspective” (instead of “it’s okay to be wrong”) can all open the space for the diversity of thought. 


Activity to Support You in Motivating Students

I would like to capitalize on the goal-setting theory. After the first three weeks of class, I would ask my students to create a goal for themselves that pertains to the course and a goal for themselves that does not ( a goal that focuses on another aspect of their life). The student and I would only have access to this information.

Through assignments, tests, and participation, I would offer them observed feedback about their progress toward the goal. During the midterm and final term, I would ask to meet with the students to gather their thoughts on how their intentions were manifesting. 

This activity aims to work with the students in building their interests and motivations to accomplish what they want. I would be a supporting assistant in the process that can see their performance from a different perspective. Whether they did or did not accomplish their goals would not matter.

Motivating Students
Motivating Students: A Page in the Top 10 Organic Rainbow Moments to help Maintain Goals

Fundamentally, the activity would guide them in continuing to set goals that they deemed valuable. The students gain autonomy and also have a supporter in the process. I have learned more about the root of unmotivated students and the components needed to motivate a student rather than personal motivational tips.

Nonetheless, this blog helped me realize that I would be working with a variety of students who all would be experiencing the world differently. Understanding their personal needs is helpful. Most importantly, what I would do to get them to be present in the class is necessary.

Interested in learning more about healthy home structures while distance learning? Check out the PBS SoCal article I wrote here

With Intention, Sarafina