by Katherine Reilly – Teacher Trainer and Author
Article originally published in ELT NEWS
Procrastination is a trait most people are familiar with. How many times have you been faced with a challenge you would inadvertently or purposely delay because you couldn’t find the energy or desire to accomplish it? Lack of motivation is usually the cause and this is a concern most teachers aspire to rectify by implementing different approaches with various degrees of success.
Motivation is not merely a means that can be used to inspire your students to work hard. If viewed as an ‘educational approach’, then you will most likely fail in doing so. What educators should focus on instead, are various factors which will bring about the desired result, not only in class, but in students’ everyday lives. We tend to forget that students look up to us for guidance and our presence will in most cases, leave an everlasting effect on them.
But the question remains… “How can I motivate my students?” The simplest answer to this question is to put yourself in their shoes and realize that motivation can be achieved by adhering to a few strategies which are more or less familiar to most educators.
Establish a learning community in your classroom.
Is the classroom environment ‘safe’? How do my students feel? Are they willing to participate or is something holding them back? It is essential to build said community as a leader of the classroom. The two factors one should bear in mind are ‘respect’ and ‘love’. Respect, goes two ways as it is up to the educator to inspire confidence in class. Love, is something that will eventually flourish out of respect and will establish a friendly and inspiring environment. Being wary of our students’ well-being is something we should always strive to achieve, not out of obligation, but due to genuine concern for them.
Build a friendly relationship with your students.
This factor in itself would require an article of its own. However, two elements an educator should be concerned with, have to do with the nature of this relationship. As mentioned before, respect should be the foundation, as it would be easy to cross the line and have things get out of hand in class. Being too friendly will lead to lack of respect. Likewise, promoting a ‘forced’ friendship is anything but.
An educator’s profession is a privilege. Shaping a child’s future, inspiring him to surpass his own limits and offering guidance in times of need is something we should not take in vain. It is both an honor and a huge responsibility to care of your children. Learning about their activities, hobbies and of course supporting them when ill, injured, concerned or in any other respect, is essential. The secret is, to do this out of love, not as a mandatory action.
Support and cultivate students’ abilities and talents.
It would be foolish to say that abilities and talents can’t be cultivated or improved through hard work. Praise your students’ efforts, even if they fail. Failing is a part of life, as this is also a lesson that must be learnt. If a child is reprimanded or if the educator fails to commend the student for his efforts, motivation will dwindle. Self-esteem will diminish. Confidence in his abilities will fade away, and all sense of making an effort will naturally be gone.
Educators should focus and dedicate their efforts to inspiring their students and praising them for their accomplishments, no matter how insignificant they may seem. A child’s mental health and stability is mostly dependent on his interactions with his teacher, who will undoubtedly play the most crucial role in inspiring him throughout the rest of his life.
Share your successes with your students.
Inspiration leads to motivation. An inspirational educator will instill confidence in his students and motivate them to do the same. Besides our parents, teachers are looked upon as inspirational figures. Sharing your stories of success as well as those of failure, will help them realize that no one is perfect, however, sacrifices, motivation and determination can help them overcome obstacles and realize plans they have for the future.
Success stories such as giving a speech, becoming a parent, winning in a competition, anything we consider a success in our lives, our students can and will relate to, while establishing respect in the process.
Motivating your class can admittedly take some time, but is quite feasible as long as you put your heart to it and realize that you too once needed the proper motivation to flourish and achieve your goals in life.