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How to Motivate Students Through Encouragement

Janelle Cox

There’s no denying that people do better when they feel better about themselves. When you have a student who is constantly getting discouraged, then how can you expect them to feel good or do good in school? Using encouragement can be a powerful tool to reach discouraged children and motivate them to do better and feel better. Here are a few teaching strategies that can help you learn how to motivate students through encouragement.

How to Motivate Students: Involve Students in the Decision-Making Process

One of the best ways to motivate students is to involve them in the decision-making process. Offering students their input will help them to develop the skills that will facilitate improvement. It’ll also show students that you value their opinion. Try involving students in creating the classroom rules. The more that students are involved in the process of choosing the rules, the more likely they’ll follow them. Not to mention, having students be part of the decision-making process is a great way to give students a boost of encouragement.

Give Specific, Honest Feedback

Feedback is yet another great way to motivate students, especially when it’s very specific. For example, you can tell a student that you loved how they used metaphors at the end of their writing piece or how they changed their ending during the editing process. The more honest and specific you are in giving student feedback, the better. This positive encouragement will motivate students to not only want to do better, but it’ll also make them feel good too. Think back to when you were a student and received a nice comment from your teacher. How did it make you feel? Offer students encouraging feedback and watch how their self-esteem skyrockets.

Implement Morning Meetings

Morning meetings are a great way for students to share their feelings and listen to others. During this time of the day, students can learn to be encouraging, as well as learn how to give and receive compliments from one another. Morning meetings give students the opportunity to learn a lot from each other -- like how it feels to be discouraged or when they are feeling encouraged. Students can learn that they’re not alone and that there’s no wrong time of the day to pay someone a compliment.

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Develop an Encouraging Classroom Atmosphere

In addition to regular morning meetings that allow students to openly share their thoughts and feelings, developing a classroom atmosphere that is always encouraging is a great way to motivate students. The classroom should be a place where students are free to point out when they see others doing good or doing the right thing. While morning meetings are a great start for students to share and be kind and encouraging to others, taking that beyond the morning and into daily life can have a real impact on students.

Use Encouragement to Motivate Positive Behavior

Encouragement can be a great motivator to improve unwanted behavior in students. Instead of using rewards and punishments, encouragement can be used. When students are seeking attention, they’ll try and get it, whether it’s negative attention or positive attention. However, your words can change a child’s behavior. All you have to do is keep it simple and use positive reinforcement to encourage appropriate behavior. For example, instead of saying, “You did a good job not crying today,” You can say “I’m really proud of how you stayed calm today when I told you there would be no recess.” This way, you’re pointing out the behavior that you want to see from them, not putting them down in the process.

The root word of encouragement is “Courage,” and with our help (and encouragement), students will learn to develop courage and motivate themselves. By implementing teaching strategies, such as involving students in the decision-making process, giving students honest feedback, developing an encouraging atmosphere through morning meetings, and using encouragement to motivate positive behavior, students will not only be academically successful, but successful in life as well.

Do you know how to motivate students? Do you use and of these encouraging teaching strategies in your classroom? Please feel free to leave your thoughts and suggestions in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you about this topic.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.