How to motivate students

thinking about external ways of motivating, start thinking about a space in which students will motivate themselves? How to motivate students.

How to motivate students
How to motivate students

Motivating students to learn is one of the skills that seem to be essential in the work of a teacher. It is also important to become aware of our own, sometimes ineffective and even demotivating behaviors, which we use with the faith that they will bring the expected results. Maybe, instead of thinking about external ways of motivating, start thinking about a space in which students will motivate themselves? How to motivate students.

What is motivation and why write about it again

Much has been written about motivation. It seems obvious that motivation is a mental process that supports the decision-making process, the implementation of the action until the goal is achieved. However, it is still not obvious that the lack of motivation in students is not their fault. It is also not obvious to see lack of motivation as a cause rather than an effect. It is quite common for teachers and parents to say: Gifted but lazy. What does this "lazy" mean? Unmotivated, who doesn't want to, refuses to work and commit. Cause? Not. Effect.

Every human being comes into the world with a potential that, if put to good use, will make them a genius. However, in order to take advantage of these opportunities, it needs the support of the family and educational environment. So what can the school do to develop this potential? Let the young person act with joy (because such actions motivate), freely (because it proves a good match of the degree of difficulty and methods of achieving the goal) and at his own pace (because only then can he be effective). Then, the internal motivation is activated, which pushes a person to acquire new information, transform what he knows and knows, draw conclusions and implement this knowledge.

What a teacher can support and what cannot be influenced

The teacher can support the student's intrinsic motivation by creating opportunities for success. Each success awakens the desire for the next. So you can try a recipe for school motivation: the student knows that he can cope with it, understands the rules of a given activity and sees its own benefit in it. It supports the inner attitude of the young person to the undertaken activities. However, it is necessary to take into account the obstacles that hinder the implementation of this scheme: impaired development or behavior, low self-esteem of the student, gaps in knowledge and low skills in basic school techniques (reading, writing, counting, remembering). The teacher has no influence over the fact that they are there, but influences how they will affect the student's motivation.

A student with a developmental disability needs support in those areas he or she has disturbed (e.g. a student with Asperger Syndrome needs more attention from the teacher in terms of ensuring that he / she feels safe according to his / her needs, explaining social situations and rules of behavior), sometimes a different pace of work or tools. A student with a disturbed behavior needs understanding and clearly delineated boundaries. For a student with low self-esteem, frequent communication about his skills and opportunities for success is necessary, and for a student with knowledge gaps - additional remedial classes. It is advisable for each of them to involve the class in their work so that they can achieve success to the best of their abilities. The essence will be to properly diagnose the needs of a given student and support exactly where he needs it and in a way that is appropriate for him.

How to motivate without rewards or penalties

Praise and rewards are so common in upbringing and education that it is often impossible to even imagine a different pattern of behavior. However, when we allow ourselves to reflect, we will see that a child who performs actions only when praised (and similarly: refraining from any action only for fear of punishment) does not act autonomously, with full responsibility, but reacts to external stimuli. We are talking then about external motivation, which is conditioned by rewards or punishments, and does not exist without them.

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For example, a very musically gifted girl will play an instrument and sing, but will not put any effort into developing her talent, unless the message of her parents and teachers is constantly reinforced. Otherwise, the conflicted siblings will not use blows only in the presence of someone who can punish, but in a one-on-one situation, it will be a constant mode of action. They know they shouldn't do it, but they don't know why and how differently, or they don't want otherwise.

The solution is to motivate without rewards and punishments, putting on constant dialogue. For a musically gifted girl the following messages: I see that you enjoy playing and singing. I see you are happy with this performance! - they will allow you to feel the author of success and have satisfaction with your actions. Otherwise, when the message is: I am proud of you! You did a great game! The same applies to the aforementioned siblings. By talking about the causes of conflicts, how to react differently, and to support empathy, children will not only understand the causes and avoid them, but also learn behaviors that will be constant for life. When a conflict arises in other situations, the learned behaviors will allow them to use the tools of dialogue, negotiation and mediation rather than react emotionally.

Such educational work is effective for a lifetime, but lasts longer and is slower than that based on rewards and punishments. It supports the child's self-esteem and strengthens its autonomy. It allows building strong and lasting bonds in the group (family, class), where it is applicable.

In the classroom, such work can take many forms. The teacher says to the student: I appreciate your effort! I'm with you! Maybe he'll just stop at a specific child's table and smile encouragingly. If the student answers, just confirm or deny it (Yes. That's a good answer or: No! The correct answer is¦). Sometimes it is better to remain silent than to constantly pay attention to the same mistake (behavior, clothing, vocabulary ...). It's better to think about what can be done to eliminate this type of error. The teacher then has time to think about the course of action so as not to strengthen and consolidate those we want to eliminate. And if prizes and praise, then for everyone: I like the work of the whole group. I can see and appreciate your effort! This method of communication in the classroom builds an atmosphere of cooperation, and it favors the achievement of educational goals. You can use the cards Motivate - Support.

If the group is particularly difficult, reluctant, does not learn, or misbehaves, building a totem of praise may be an interesting solution. For example, the teacher counts how many weeks he will meet with the class in a given six-month period (for younger children, it is worth dividing the six-month period into months or weeks so that the final is not too distant). After each week (or lesson), the teacher in a visible place in the class (e.g. a newspaper) hangs a part of the totem with praise for good work, great behavior, outstanding achievement, etc.

Managing a class team and increasing students' motivation to learn

Supporting students' intrinsic motivation is an important task of the specialist teacher for success. You can start with the diagnosis of students' needs and then adjust the style of work to it. Ken Blanchard's work on the 4 styles of management may be of use. The model applies to management, but the rules apply to work in any group and are successful in education. The styles listed are based on a diagnosis of the needs of specific people. When observing students, you can divide them into four groups.

  1. They cannot and do not want to: Such students need a teacher-instructor who will provide them with knowledge about how to do a task and for what (what benefit they will get). This group requires the teacher's attention, constant control of the way work is performed and its progress, as well as supporting messages. Worksheets, task instructions, detailed lesson or homework plans will be useful so that the students, by following the instructions, achieve the planned goal. The teacher should strive to reduce working time as much as possible in such a way that students can move on to the next group as quickly as possible.
  2. They cannot, but they want to: You can work with this group coaching, ie set them tasks, advise them, discuss possibilities, involve them in planning and monitoring plans. Techniques such as decision trees, mental maps of various types, diagrams, tables, charts, etc. will be useful. There is still a need to strengthen students' confidence and support their self-esteem.
  3. They can, but they don't want to: the teacher focuses on motivating - supports, encourages, persuades, shows benefits. These students may be encouraged by unconventional work tools: projects (e.g. using IT technology, flipped lesson, question star, force field analysis, table lesson, etc.). In the action itself, the teacher leaves a great deal of independence to the students, but constantly monitors their activities.
  4. They can and want to: the teacher gradually expands the responsibilities of the students, exercises general supervision over the activities, but agrees to the implementation of the goals set by the students, monitors their activities. It organizes educational processes taking into account the great freedom of students in the selection of forms, methods and tools for achieving success. Techniques and tools based on the use of technology, independent material development, extensive mental maps, projects involving the combination of knowledge and skills in various subjects can be effective for these students.