If you think back to when you were a pupil, which teacher caught your eye? Was it the one that stood at the front reading from a book or sheet of paper in a monosyllabic tone? Or perhaps it was the one who was animated and engaged – who showed they were truly passionate about their subject? Chances are it was the latter, but being this kind of teacher can feel challenging after years of working.
Why is motivation important?
A motivated teacher is crucial to a successful classroom. They will look at teaching through a different lens, and, in doing so, motivate their students in their learning too. Motivation helps to energise, direct and sustain positive behaviour over a long period of time. It involves working towards goals and tailoring activities to achieving this purpose. It also helps to drive creativity and curiosity, sparking the desire needed for students to want to learn more.
It isn’t just a case of getting pupils interested in learning in the moment, but also in growing the underlying goals and aspirations pushing their entire academic studies. It is about motivating them beyond the initial task or feeling of accomplishment and appreciating how ‘deferred gratification’ plays into the role of education in order for them to work towards a greater, larger goal. This is known as ‘intrinsic motivation’ and research has found it to be of key importance.
How is motivation fostered through teaching in the UK?
The classroom environment plays a key role in how motivated a student is. They need to be in a positive environment in which they feel valued and respected. It is also important that they feel as though their input is heard. If they are learning in a caring, supportive and inclusive space, they will feel much more motivated to learn.
However, as well as the overall environment making a difference, having a motivated teacher is also crucial. The way that you present the information to them will help to dictate how they feel towards it. If you share it as something worth being excited and animated over, this will shape their behaviour and response. They will feel more inspired to do well as they will want to do justice to a subject that you have taught so passionately – even if it’s not their main interest in life.
A motivated student will feel genuine pride in the work they have done, which is an important feeling to carry through in life. It helps keep students actively interested in what they’re studying and pushes them towards continuing their education. It enhances their performance in all aspects of their school work and helps them become goal-oriented, motivated individuals in life. It also encourages them to always finish a task and do the best that they can with all they set their mind to.
How to introduce motivation into the classroom
Part of being a motivated teacher comes through your general behaviour and attitude. There’s a lot to be said for people that regularly smile, offer a happy and cheery outlook on life and generally come across as upbeat and pleasant to be around – regardless of how they’re actually feeling. Making your classroom a warm, colourful and stimulating environment is also key to creating a positive space.
It’s also important that you reward your students for good work as you go along. It doesn’t have to be all the time, as then it will come to be expected and will hold less value when you do praise them. But recognising hard work and offering praise will ensure your students stay encouraged and feeling as though their work is on the right track forwards and that you’re noticing their efforts.
Mixing things up is also key. If you’re doing the same thing all the time, it’ll start to become boring and repetitive. Look at the materials you’re teaching and think about how you can put a new spin on them. Perhaps you turn something into an acting activity or maybe you can turn facts or figures into a song that will help to make it more memorable. Perhaps you can get students working together on a group activity – this is a great way of helping students motivate each other. Be creative – use posters, offer visual aids and diagrams, show movies and play games.
Additionally, working in a different environment will help to keep students on their toes. Research has found that when we move around in various spaces while learning, we are able to recall more information better than if we had just stayed in one space. This is due to the associations the brain makes. The more you encourage movement in learning, the more the information is absorbed. Perhaps you do some work in the playground, some in the classroom and some off the school grounds. Maybe you look at taking your students on a field trip that will add a real-life dimension to their studies.
Setting expectations in the classroom is key and gives your students a standard to work towards. However, when you find your students need a nudge forwards, offering small incentives can help make learning fun. Encouraging a competitive energy can help fuel students and push them further – this could range from offering a special privilege to having a class pizza party if they all achieve a certain grade. There’s a reason sales companies offer staff bonuses – it always motivates!
Finally, showing students how the information they’re learning is useful to real-life scenarios will help them to see the practical application that it holds. Often students will switch off when they don’t see how it will ever benefit them, but if you can connect it to life outside the classroom, it will give it new importance and motivate them to listen more attentively.