Articles for Teachers
Motivating students at every level, from kindergarten to college, takes a combination of factors within the classroom setting. Certain factors may motivate students into negative behaviors or learning patterns. Other factors, such as a positive teacher attitude, individualized learning and a positive, encouraging environment, motivate students to engage in and learn from the educational process.
Teacher attitude makes a difference in motivating students. Students quickly sense when a teacher is disconnected with what she's teaching or when she really doesn't care for or isn't connected with the students, not just as a class, but as individuals. An attitude of criticism or favoritism disrupts good order in the classroom and motivates students to act out in a negative fashion because the students do not believe the teacher cares, or believe nothing they do will be good enough.
An upbeat attitude usually stems from a teacher who loves teaching and cares about students. This translates into student motivation. This teacher constantly encourages rather than criticizes, which builds up rather than tears down the self-esteem and self-confidence of the students. This teacher also provides individualized feedback and encouragement. This motivates students to work hard and take on learning challenges to please the teacher, then themselves.
Home situations affect student motivation in the classroom. If students come from homes where they are loved and encouraged, the students will approach classroom work with eagerness and with a willingness to learn. If the students do not have a positive home environment or if the home situation doesn't provide appropriate levels of nutrition and/or sleep, students attend school with a disadvantage and a lack of motivation because of physical or emotional problems.
Lectures and a recitation of dry facts and figures tend to motivate students not to pay attention and to "tune out" a teacher they believe is boring. However, when the students become part of the learning process, learning can become more enjoyable and adaptable to those with different learning styles. Students can be motivated when teachers help them "see" what they're learning in a different context. If teaching about a historical figure or event, read stories about the time period. As long as the historical background is accurate, fiction stories draw students into the historical setting and make the era come alive. When students connect better with what they're learning, they can become more motivated.
Using interactive activities such as having students act out skits or plays on the topic--or writing scripts to act out--can be motivating factors for positive classroom participation. Also, the use of puzzles, games, special speakers and bulletin-board displays are factors that can affect classroom motivation. Encouraging students to set goals in the classroom can also provide motivation.