eNews - April 20, 2016


With spring in the air and the school year is coming to a close, you may find that your students are having more difficulty with staying motivated. Mark Twain said it this way: "It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"

Teachers, more than anyone else, have the power to motivate students and influence their behavior in positive ways.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Praise Students in Ways Big and Small
    • Recognize work in class, display work in the classroom, and send positive notes home to parents/guardian. Hold weekly awards in your classroom, organize academic pep rallies to honor students’ achievements, and even sponsor a Teacher Shoutout section in the student newspaper to acknowledge student’s hard work.

  2. Allow more wiggle breaks when students are restless
    • Allow more wiggle breaks when students are restless. A thirty-second stretch break every now and then is preferable to a loss of thirty minutes caused by distraction and boredom.

  3. Share a daily silly fact
    • A great way to make your classroom a livelier place during the month of April is to present a silly fact each day for your students to think about, dispute, talk about, research, write about, and enjoy. Find strange-but-true facts at www.amusingfacts.com

  4. Spread Excitement Like a Virus
    • Share your enthusiasm for the topic you are teaching and use appropriate, concrete and understandable examples to help students grasp it. Including art, music and multimedia can be especially motivating at this time of year.

  5. Mix It Up
    • Use a variety of teaching methods that caters to all types of learners. It is about providing each student with experiences and tasks that will improve learning.

  6. Assign Classroom Jobs
    • With students, create a list of jobs for the week. Inform students of your criteria selection. Let students earn the opportunity to pick their classroom jobs for the next week. These jobs can cater to their interests and skills.

      Classroom Job Examples:

      • Update the class calendar
      • Pick start/end of class music
      • Watch class pet
      • Public relations officer (address people who visit class)
      • Standard class jobs like attendance, cleaning the boards, putting up chairs, etc.

  7. Hand Over Some Control
    • Include students’ interests and preferences in your lesson planning. Take an audit of your class, asking what they enjoy doing or what helps them learn. Providing choices might be the best way to start if you predict a lot of “nothing” or “watch movies” answers. After reviewing the answers, integrate their ideas into your lessons or guide a brainstorm session on how these ideas can be included in your curriculum. Students can tap into their passion and relate to their subject matter if they have a choice.

  8. Open Fridays
    • You can also translate this student empowerment into an incentive. Students who attended class all week, have completed all assignments and followed classroom expectations can vote on Friday’s activities (discussion, watching a video, class jeopardy, free time, etc.).

  9. Relating Lessons to Students’ Lives
    • Students will care more if they identify with they’re learning. Examples include having students rap about historical figures, or write about their culture/background. A student’s prior knowledge and life experience contribute to new learning in the class.

  10. Track Improvement
    • For many students it can feel like a never-ending uphill battle at this point in the school year. Remind students that they’ve come a long way. Set achievable, short-term goals, emphasis improvement, or revisit mastered concepts that they once struggled with to refresh their confidence.

And lastly, be careful, as Spring Fever is contagious! There’s nothing like warmer weather to cause daydreams of summer vacations and tropical breezes. Incorporating outside activities and movement can motivate you to finish out the school year strong and focused on success.

"When students see their actions and voices are not only valued but also empowered, they begin to turn from motivation-free to motivated."

-Jason Flom in Education Week Teacher

Adopted from: Annie Condron