This week, the iTDi bloggers are talking about motivating students. As always, they come at the topic from different angles, and (as always) they gave me plenty of ideas to think about.
Steven Herder sees motivation as part of the circle of life for education. While motivated students can help motivate teachers, it’s probably more reliable for us to find ways to motivate ourselves. Motivated teachers encourage students to be motivated as well. For Steven, some of the best motivation comes from being involved with JALT. If you’ve ever volunteered your time for your professional organization, you’ll nod your head in agreement as you read Steven’s post. If you haven’t yet volunteered, you’ll be tempted to.
When a student is unmotivated, the last thing they want to hear is a teacher talking to them about motivation. Chuck Sandy believes that when our students act out, it’s rarely because they’re truly unmotivated, and it isn’t about us. As teachers, we’re quick to take the blame for students who act out, because we feel responsible for reaching and motivating every student within our sphere. While you may not have had a student just like the one Chuck uses to explain his approach, I’m sure you’ve had one who acted out in some way. His advice rings true — we wait for a gap in the fences students have built around themselves, and then reach in with love.
It’s hard to admit feeling unmotivated, especially when you’re known as Miss Motivation. I really admire Vladimira Michalkova for sharing her own feelings of being in the classroom with nothing to offer her students — no enthusiasm, no great ideas, no encouraging words. Her story illustrates the other side of Steven’s motivation circle of life. Vladimira’s students started to give back to her the motivation she had shared with them over the course of the school year. It’s a beautiful story and a powerful reminder that a teacher’s personal life is at least as important as her teaching life.
Chiew Pang follows up on his earlier post about staying healthy and motivated with equally practical tips for motivating our students. He suggests creating a learning environment based on mutual respect — know your students and their interests and you’ll be able to create lessons they can relate to, and you’ll be able to set goals that are realistic. I really like Chiew’s ideas about sharing student projects with parents and other classes, and getting your PLN (Personal Learning Network) involved in recognizing and praising your students’ accomplishments. He also reminds us that when students share responsibility for classroom management, and have a say in their learning process, it’s motivating and engaging for everyone involved. If you want even more practical ways to make your classroom more motivating, you won’t want to miss Chiew’s post.
Having been cheered up by Vicky Loras’ “Whoop! Whoop!” more than once after a hard day, I can totally understand her student finding that Vicky’s smile and positive energy changed his own attitude. She reminds us that it matters to students that they know we’re happy to be in class with them. In addition to being generous with praise and encouragement, it’s motivating for our students to see us learning, too. If students can see us struggling with learning a new language (or anything else) and not giving up in the face of difficulties, it gives us shared bond as learners, and that’s motivating for everyone in the classroom.
Cecilia Lemos’ post this week is an excellent look at the motivational challenges facing adult students. They enter classes with high goals and unrealistic expectations, and not enough time to balance work, family, and study. It’s easy to understand why their initial enthusiasm and motivation wanes with a perceived lack of quick progress. Cecilia helps them notice the progress they have made, and tries to redirect their big goals into achievable ones — like being understood rather than sounding like a native speaker. She also suggests ways for her students to make their language studies more effective by finding reading and listening materials related to her students’ career interests, and encouraging them to use their commute to listen to English podcasts. If you teach working adults, you will definitely discover ideas to help motivate your students, too.
Now it’s your turn! Find a post that interests you and go visit the iTDi blog to read the whole article. Please do leave a comment for the writer sharing your reactions, or your own experiences with motivating students. Comments are very motivating