Boy energy can be contagious, after all.
Why students don't like school often starts on the outside—dysfunctional families, unsupportive parents, violence in our culture, garbage on TV, erosion of respect, and the list goes on, says Allen Mendler, an educator and author of the book Motivating Students Who Don't Care.
Whether the problem is at home or in the schools, teachers can do a lot to inspire students, but such work is not without its challenges.
One middle school alternative program that Mendler observed isolated its most troublesome students. Although their teachers "had their heart in the right places," he says, they were often overwhelmed by the collective neediness of such students.
Yet, one teacher—who worked with the same tough kids—was different. This teacher also engaged in good-natured banter when students kidded him—he gave as good as he got. Once, when one angry-looking and chronically unprepared student, Luis, arrived late to class, the teacher called out his name and then tossed an object to him.
That teacher, with his unconventional ways, was getting more out of the same students than the other teachers, Mendler concludes. Instilling Hope Many educators would say we shouldn't be enabling students like Luis, who seemingly expects that the teacher will always have an extra pencil and paper to hand out to him, Mendler admits.
Doesn't that reinforce irresponsible behavior? While it certainly is important that students come to class on time, do their homework, and be prepared with pencil and paper, instilling a sense of hope in students is more important than demanding responsibility, Mendler urges.
For example, the teacher returned one student's test with a 50 percent grade—objectively a failure—but this teacher gave specific feedback to the student.
After congratulating the student on the correct answers, he also invited him to come see him on his own time to figure out what he did wrong with the prospect of redoing his work for a better grade.
This teacher was giving students a sense of hope that they can perform and produce. This is a conventional approach, but it works. Tell students that getting good grades, working well, and making an effort do lead to fulfillment in adult life, whether that means going to college, getting a decent job, or buying a house, and so on.
Even if students don't buy into it, the notion will be planted and they will think about it. Give students incremental challenges. For example, for the student who chronically doesn't do homework, Mendler suggests you ask her to do one problem for the next day, saying that you're going to call on her for the answer.
Mendler reasons that students who lack motivation have been so accustomed to thinking that they can't be successful, that they have to be given small opportunities so they "may be reawakened" to the fact that they can be successful. Focus on the teaching and learning process.
Be aware of the characteristics of a task that can be motivational elements. For example, is there enough time for the task? Can the student be successful at it?
Is there some novelty to it? Are students sure of the purpose of it? Should it be done by oneself or with a partner? If you invest enough chips in your "goodwill account" with certain students, you can make a "withdrawal" for which you demand better behavior, more academic effort, and so on.
Give rewards for an immediate gain.
The framework includes the following: Teachers Have to Be Optimists You should believe that a student can change. Especially for those working with difficult students, teachers have to fight against the bugaboos of pessimism, skepticism, and cynicism.
For example, he talks about one teacher on the verge of burnout, who decided to engage in "mental gymnastics"; that is, imagining that when students walk in the door, it's the first day of school.
For that teacher, the first day of school holds the most promise, energy, and hope that everything good is possible. The teacher said that he noticed that not only did his own attitude change, but so did the students.
Change Is a Roller Coaster Ride Remember that change is a roller coaster ride; students will have ups and downs even as they move forward. Like all of us, students will revisit old behavior many times, even as they try to acquire new behaviors. So give any strategy at least five tries in a two- or three-week period.
If it seems to produce some ups, even with the "backsliding," than the strategy is taking hold. Use leverage and persuasion to help change kids. Leverage asks, How will I get this student to work?Motivating Students - Motivating Students The purpose of this research paper is to present research findings that show motivational teaching strategies to encourage the academic performance and achievement of students.
Engaging Writing Activities to Increase Skills and Motivation for Middle School Students By Alicia Accapezzato Submitted to the Department of Education and Human. Motivation of Middle School Boys in Math Class Abstract Middle school is a time of physical, emotional and social change for boys.
When students hit middle school, academics tend to take a back seat to all of the new activity in their lives. Be flexible and keep your eyes on the learning goal prize: One of my students had never written an essay in his school career. He was intent on maintaining that record during an assignment to write a persuasive essay about what students thought was the worst natural disaster.
This website is written in the context of high school or middle school students, but is easily applied to the undergraduate learning experience.
The site provides definitions of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, strategies for increasing motivation, and suggestions to motivate students to engage in class activities. Teachers of young adolescents in the middle school must look at the impact that motivation has on their students and must address the issue.
However, just as important as addressing the issue of low motivation found in many students, teachers must look for teaching strategies and pedagogy that increases student motivation and recognize the importance of setting high expectations to help.