There is nothing worse than trying to teach to a class full of unmotivated and uninterested students. The lack of energy is a cloud that will consume both you and your students alike. As teachers, we need to continually remember that a huge part of success in education, and in life for that matter, is the individual's drive to achieve and succeed. Following is a list of ten motivational ideas that you can implement in your classroom in order to fight against boredom and apathy.
1. Publish Student WorkSeeing one’s work in print or posted on the Internet as part of a classroom website can be truly motivating. This will allow students to have a goal to work towards and they can see and share the results of their hard work with others.
2. Use Supporting Material and Props
Bringing manipulatives and props into the class can be truly motivating. Some history teachers have been known to dress up as characters from history like Abraham Lincoln
or Theodore Roosevelt
which is always fun for students and teacher alike. However, even just bringing in items like foreign money that can be passed around or posting pictures around the classroom about the topic at hand can be interest building for students.
3. Provide Specific Rewards Students Can Work TowardsCome up with one or more rewards that students can work towards. Maybe you agree to allow them 10 minutes of free time on Fridays or you will provide them with popcorn during the next lesson specific movie. Whatever it is, come up with what the students need to do to achieve the goal and stick to your plan.
4. Provide Choices for Students
Whenever possible, allow students to have some choice in what they are learning. For example, if you are having the students write an essay, you might give them a couple of broader topics to choose from so that they can pick something they are more interested in. Another area of choice can come in the method of presentation for projects. The students may choose to create a website, a PowerPoint
, or a song. The ability to demonstrate learning through choice and a variety of methods can be very motivating for students.
5. Have Students Work Towards Individual GoalsHave students come up with one or more specific goals of what they want to achieve in your class. You can attach a grade to these goals in terms of how much effort they put into achieving the goals.
6. Give Students a RoleAllow students to be as involved in possible in your classroom environment. Try to fit in debates and simulations to give them the opportunity to participate in a more direct manner.
7. Connect Learning to the Real WorldAs often as you can, connect what students are learning to the world around them. By connecting the classroom lesson to the students’ personal lives we can provide them with greater incentives and buy-in on what you are teaching.
8. Mix It UpToo much of anything can quickly lead to boredom, including lectures, whole group discussions, small group work, debates, and cooperative learning activities. Therefore, make sure to vary your lessons accordingly. Similarly, vary homework assignments so that students are not always doing the same thing every night.
9. Get Students Involved in ContestsFind contests, publishing events, scholarships, and events that students can participate in and work towards outside of the classroom. Maybe you have all your students send a submission for a story to a local magazine. Maybe you have students write an essay for a college scholarship competition. By connecting what you are teaching in the classroom to something that carries real world rewards, you can help increase student involvement.
10. Bring Service Into the ClassroomMost students have an innate desire to work towards a goal greater than themselves. For some this might be that they want to help preserve the environment. Others might want to help the poor or focus on individuals hit hard by natural disasters. If you can tap into this while connecting the actions to lessons in the classroom, you can build on these natural, altruistic desires.