There are so many ways to get your students in gear. You have the power to light the fire that makes them passionate learners. Here are some ideas to help you motivate your class.
- Don’t beg, buy, or force. INVITE! Every day work to invite every student to join you in learning math. From the way you greet them when they enter the room, to taking the time to listen to them, to appreciating their insights and effort, to believing in their potential, you can invite students to be the most important part of the learning process. Find a copy of Inviting School Success by William Purkey.
- Believe in your students and foster a sense of ownership. It is important that you believe and that each student knows you believe they can be successful. When they are successful (and make sure every child feels success early) show that they are responsible for their own success.
It is critical that students believe that failure results from a lack of effort and NOT a lack of aptitude. If you want your student to persevere in similar tasks in the future, the first step is getting your student to believe that with increased effort he or she CAN do it!
- Praise students in ways that reward effort, not ability. By praising students for effort, they realize that their concentration and dedication are valued. They will tend to sustain the motivation and perseverance necessary in fulfilling challenging tasks.
- Always listen and invite students to improve. It is easy for students to blame their failures on lack of ability, busy schedules, and so on, but the trick is getting them to believe that they are IN control of their outcomes.
Instead of punishing them for failure, try a constructive conversation about how they could improve for next time. Work with them to create an action plan. Did they not allow for enough time? Allot time in a planner with them. Were they unclear on the directions? Encourage them to contact you before the due date to make sure they are on the right track next time.
- Model how you want your students to act. It’s contagious! You are actually more motivated to succeed when you see someone else succeeding. Exhibit your personal excitement about your students, your job and what we’re learning. When you are challenged, value your mistakes as positive learning experiences.