By- Angela Padrón
Most people need something to motivate them to complete a task. For instance, those who want to lose weight may find pictures of fit people and hang them up on the wall for inspiration. Or someone who wants to travel to a foreign country might make a plan to save money within a given time frame.
Well, children in school are no different. The easiest type of incentive to give students is a treasure box or candy. Most students will even be happy with a sticker or two. But beyond tangible rewards, here are some things teachers can do to motivate students in the classroom:
1. Give praise when it’s been earned – It’s very easy to focus just on the negative all the time— but who wants to feel like they’re always doing something wrong? Highlighting student’s good deeds and effort, even if only once in a while, can be the key to getting them motivated to work hard and learn.
2. Pep talks and rallies – Pump up students’ confidence, motivation, and self-esteem by telling anecdotes, giving advice and encouragement, and by cheering on their successes.
3. Make them feel like legitimate stakeholders– Let students feel like their opinion and voice matter, and in return, they will show more respect and feel more self-worth.
4. Survey their interests – At the beginning of the school year, teachers should provide some type of interest survey to find out students’ perceived strengths and weaknesses, as well as their interests, such as their favorite colors, music, hobbies, and books. Teachers can use this information in the classroom by providing rewards and conducting lessons based on or including students’ interests.
5. Make lessons fun – Nobody likes to be bored, especially children. Nowadays, social media provides so much stimulus to students that it’s hard for adults to compete for kids’ attention. By making lessons engaging and fun, teachers have a better chance of getting students to buy into the lesson and work hard.
6. Set high but attainable goals – Students should set short- and long-term goals in school that are attainable and challenging. Short-term goals should include tasks to accomplish in the current day or week, versus long-term goals for the entire school year and beyond. When students feel like there is a clear path to success, it’s easier to keep them on track and wanting to reach the finish line.
7. Provide positive feedback – This relates to praise in some ways, but in other ways it’s different. When a student hands in an assignment, avoid using a red pen and marking everything wrong with an X. Instead, have students make smiley faces or checks next to those that are correct and leave the others blank. Then provide positive feedback by pointing out at least one thing the student did correctly, then give constructive (i.e., not negative-sounding) criticism to help the student improve for the next time. This will give the students some glimpse of hope rather than always feel like they are failing.
8. Track and review progress – While providing positive feedback is important, doing it on a consistent basis is just as important. The more it is done, the more self-esteem and inner confidence a student can build.
9. Provide students choice – Allow opportunities for students to make choices about what they learn, who they sit next to, and activities in the class. By doing so, you give students a sense of belonging and ownership—something that can be highly motivating.
10. Be a role model – Discuss and show students how hard work has paid off in your life or in other people’s lives that you know. When students hear motivational stories, it can inspire them to achieve a particular goal or accomplish a task. Some of them may even aspire to be like you!
Ultimately, the goal is for students to find inner motivation to work hard and for them to strive for success because they have a desire to improve their skills and their lives. By creating opportunities in the classroom such as those mentioned above, students are one step closer to developing their own ways of motivating themselves to learn and succeed.