Over the years I’ve had various students who just don’t seem that interested in learning. Some of them appear lazy, others are disorganized. And occasionally there’s one who just seems completely apathetic. I have to admit there have been times that I haven’t really been the best at motivating these students. I really do try, but sometimes it’s just overwhelming, isn’t it? Sometimes we feel like nothing we’re trying is making a difference.
But these students need us to invest in them, believe in them, and inspire them to learn. It will not be easy, but oh what a joy when we see a previously unmotivated student start to make progress! That smile when they start to realize what they’re capable of us just invaluable!
So how can we inspire our students to learn? Here’s a few ideas….
How to Motivate Your Students to Learn
- Believe in them. If you don’t believe that a particular student is going to complete his work, he probably won’t. So stop assuming they won’t and start believing that they can and will. For more thoughts on how to do this and why it’s so important, check out the post Can We Really Believe in All Our Students?
- Be extremely encouraging. Sometimes students who appear lazy are actually discouraged or frustrated that they are having trouble learning. Our words can be extremely powerful in inspiring them, but more importantly, we can encourage them by giving them one-on-one help and showing them that they can indeed do the work and be successful. It can make a world of difference when they see that they are capable of even small successes.
It’s also important to point out their successes and show them that their hard work is paying off, so be liberal with your encouraging words. You can even take it to the next level by creating individualized awards and certificates. (Canva has a great free certificate maker here.) You may never know the powerful effect your encouragement has!
- Make sure your students are the ones who are working. The one who is working is the one who is learning, so if you want your students to learn more, make sure they’re actually working in your class, not just listening to lectures all the time. Plan times when the students are working and you walk around to help them one-on-one. Incorporating writing-to-learn is also another easy and powerful way to increase student engagement. See the post “5 Easy Ways to Incorporate Writing in Your Classroom” for ideas of how to do this.
- Use memory work and recitation. I know memory work has fallen out of favor in recent years, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a powerful tool. When your class recites facts or passages together, the students simply cannot help but learn them. And you don’t have to “drill and kill.” You can make it interesting (dare we say “drill and thrill”?) By saying them quickly, varying the voice that the students use, varying who says it, saying it throughout the day, etc. you can add variety and interest to recitation.
- Make learning fun. You don’t have to constantly be doing intricate activities to make learning fun. Just be passionate about what you’re teaching and let that passion shine through. Tell relevant stories and add in some humor. And simply show the kids that they can do it – Students enjoy learning when they feel that they are successful.
- Be wise with your homework. More homework does not necessarily mean more learning. So be considerate of the students’ family time by only assigning homework that is truly valuable and necessary. When you limit the quantity of homework you assign, you can focus on quality and expect more of your students. Expect them to complete every assignment and have logical consequences for when they don’t (preferably something more than simply taking points off. If possible, require them to complete the assignment at some point during the day.)
- Have one-on-one conversations. When a student has a chronic problem, pull them aside and talk to them. Ask questions to try to understand why they are struggling, and ask them what needs to change so that they can be successful. Develop a plan together and then help them stick to it.
- Get the parents involved. I realize that this may sound impossible, but don’t give up on this one quite yet. Sometimes parents who seem to just not be interested in helping their students are actually just at a loss of what to do. So give them some specific things they can do to help their student, and see what happens. And when you talk to them, be sure to focus on solutions, not the problems.
- Help your students be more organized. Few things are more demotivating for students than finishing their homework and then losing it. So do everything you can to help them organize their bookbags, binders, lockers, and folders.
- Consider whole brain teaching. If you’re not familiar with whole brain teaching, you should really check it out. It’s hard to explain but the basic idea is that after you teach a concept your students then explain it to each other. It’s pretty fascinating and definitely gets the students engaged! Check out this video for a demonstration or grab a copy of the book! Then, even if you don’t want to use the entire whole brain teaching system, consider incorporating parts into your classroom.
Ready to inspire your students? Join us in Beyond Classroom Management to discover more techniques to motivate your students and create a culture where your students are engaged and on-task. Click here to find out more about Beyond Classroom Management.
Photo by woodleywonderworks
This post contains affiliate links, but I only link to products that I honestly recommend.