Are your students unmotivated this time of year? So are mine…In fact, so am I!
For many students, February can be a difficult month. The holidays are no more than a faded memory and summer vacation is still far off the future. Add to that, freezing cold temperatures and short daytime hours, and often you are left with a classroom of tired, unmotivated kids. This is the time of the year I need a kick in the butt, an exciting venture, a new trick up my sleeve. Why not try something new and outside the box with your students?
70% of High School Drop Outs Cite Lack of Motivation as Major Cause
This lack of motivation is not only a hindrance to your students’ success at school, but can be a real danger to their futures. When surveyed, 70 percent of high school dropouts reported lack of motivation as being a cause for dropping out (Bridgeland, Dilulio and Morison, 2006). What are some things that we, as teachers, can do to bring back that excitement into our classrooms?
Give students more control. Kids are much more likely to be excited about an activity when they are empowered. Hold classroom meetings, ask for feedback, engage your students in the process of learning. Project Based Learning is a great way to get students involved in a meaningful way. This method of learning is centered around a question or a challenge that students work on for an extended period of time. When done effectively, PBL can change the entire dynamic of your classroom. Your students will learn to work together, solve problems, and take charge of their own learning. Teach Thought provides links to a dozen online resources that will inspire and assist you in making Project Based learning a reality in your classroom.
2. Mindfulness leads to focus.
It’s not only the kids who feel the winter blues. Many adults feel it as well. Enthusiasm is infectious! Being upbeat and passionate about your lessons is one of the greatest motivators you can give your students. But finding that enthusiasm this time of year is the hard part. Take three minutes a day- with or without your students- and complete a guided meditation, write in a journal or do one good deed. These mindful acts pave the way for success both short and long term. The Teacher’s Academy offers a course on how to incorporate mindfulness exercises in the classroom. February might be a good time to look into it!
One of the most difficult things about this time of year is the lack of exercise. Recess may be limited to indoor play, and after school sports may not be an option. The lack of movement can affect kids’ energy levels and motivation. Find creative ways to get your kids moving. Infuse today’s lesson with a “Brain Break.” Incorporate dancing and/or stretches into your routines. Take short walks around the campus when the sun is at its brightest. Or, simply take a field trip to the window to play a quick game of “I Spy.” A recent trend that has already hit the corporate world and now gaining popularity in schools to replace chairs with exercise balls. Many teachers have found that exercise balls keep kids more alert and ready to learn. Check out Go Noodles for some other great ideas to get your kids hopping!
4. Performance Arts
Music, story-telling, role play, visual arts and drama are enormously helpful in motivating students. A study by Shirley Brice Heath of Stanford University found that young people who participate in the arts regularly are much more likely to win awards for school attendance and and to be recognized for academic achievement. Teaching and the performance arts go hand in hand. Want more ways to infuse performance arts into the classroom? Check out The Teacher’s Academy course and earn professional development hours for your time.
5. Make ‘em work!
Every opportunity should be taken to make students feel like part of the classroom community. Being responsible for daily classroom chores helps give kids a sense of purpose and commitment. Feeling that deeper connection can be very helpful in motivating students to come to school and do their best, even when they are not feeling up to it. Scholastic offers some unique ideas on how to make classroom jobs an engaging part of the school day.
6. Be Encouraging!
The truth is, no matter what you do to make your classroom a stimulating environment, there will still be rough days. Whether there are difficulties at home, academic struggles, troubles with friends, or just the winter blues… students will sometimes be so entrenched in their own issues that it can seem impossible to motivate them. A warm, positive attitude and encouraging voice are sometimes the only things that get students through the roughest days. Display students’ work, recognize improvement, and make note of their successes, both big and small.
Teachers need a boost too!
Winter can be a difficult time, not only for students, but for teachers as well. However, as adults, we understand that no matter how unmotivated we may feel, we must remain accountable. One of the biggest responsibilities for teachers is fulfilling professional development requirements. Driving to take courses after work or on the weekends during the winter can be draining. Let The Teacher’s Academy make this task a little easier for you. Our helpful courses can be taken from home, at a time that is convenient for you. All of our courses fulfill Act 48 requirements and are accepted in most states. Contact us today and let us help you achieve your professional development goals quickly and effectively so that you can reserve your energy for the important work of teaching.