Whether you are teaching kindergarteners or high school seniors, there is nothing more exhilarating than seeing your students get excited about something.
However, day to day, it can be difficult to help keep them motivated. School can quickly descend into a program of rote memorization, and before you know it, your students are sleepwalking through your class.
If you want to make sure that your students are staying motivated, there are some tips to keep in mind.
Be Interested In Your Own Class Material
This is something that entertainers will tell you. If you don’t care about your material, why should anyone else? With students, you effectively have a captive audience, and for the most part, they are not sure why they are there. They do not know why they should necessarily learn the material that you are putting in front of them; all they know is that they are stuck. Figure out why you love the topic that you are teaching. This alone can go a long way. If you don’t care about what you are telling them, they won’t either!
Make It Real
What relevance does what you are teaching your students have to their lives? The thing to remember is that though they are young, your students often have full plates. They are juggling family and friendships as well as school. Older students may be wrestling with things like jobs, sexuality and romance. With all of that going on, it is difficult to prioritize something that seems so far away from them. The truth is that they skills that they pick up in school can be relevant to how they live their lives, so find ways to make it true. Show them how they can use literary analysis techniques on their favorite media, and how the math that they do is relevant as they grow older.
Take Advantage of Media
Your students are technologically very savvy, and the truth is that it is the school system that is lagging behind. As a teacher, it is your responsibility to bridge the gap! For example, say that you are teaching a class on literature. There are many writers out there who would love the chance to do a Skype interview with your class. This is something that can make what they are learning relevant to them in a way that is more familiar to them. Use the Internet as a real resource; too many teachers pretend that it doesn’t exist!
One problem that many students face is that they do not know that they are having problems until it is close to the end of term. By that point, they may feel that it is simply too late for them to catch up, which leaves them in a space where they simply give up! One way to keep your students motivated is to make sure that you give them regular feedback all throughout the semester. After large projects, it is often a good idea to talk to each student individually and to let them know where they stand. Praise students who are doing good work, and let students who are not know how they can improve.
Encourage Class Participation and Closeness
Most students do not see their classrooms as units, and because of that, they are not invested in the group as a whole. For better or for worse, classrooms are group environments, and you can foster a great deal of fellow feeling by encouraging everyone to participate. Remind everyone that your classroom is a no-bullying zone, and that everyone will be respected.
If you are ready to really motivate your students in the coming year, take a moment to consider these important tips!