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How to Motivate Students, Etc.: Advice from Real Teachers

Janelle Cox

Whether you are a teacher just starting out or a have been teaching for 20 years, it’s always nice to hear how “Other” teachers like to do things in their classroom. Any quick tip or piece of advice from a fellow teacher is like receiving a piece of gold from a leprechaun. Here are a few tips and suggestions on topics from how to motivate students to how to survive the school year.

How to Motivate Students

Learning how to motivate students is one of the most challenging tasks a teacher has. Research shows that when a student is motivated to learn, they are more likely to participate in class, so, every teacher is always striving for that. Here are a few teacher-tested tips on how to motivate students to participate a little more.

  • Put down the textbooks, they are boring! Get creative with your lessons and incorporate technology, have students create their own lesson plan, put on a play, or go outside!
  • Find out what your students love and use that to motivate them. Give students a short survey, and if you find the majority of children love animals then find a way to incorporate that into all of your lessons.
  • Offer an incentive like “Fun Friday.” If students comply with all of your demands for the week they get a few hours of fun on Friday. This may be just the push your students need to motivate them to work hard all week long.

How to Survive the School Year

There are many things teachers need to survive the school year. The first is a very specific and detailed classroom management plan. Here are a few more teacher-tested tips to help you get through the school year unscathed.

  • It is essential that you plan for everything ahead of time. This means create your lesson plans weeks prior and have all the materials ready to go. You never know if something unexpected will turn up and you always have to be ready.
  • Every teacher dreads those moments when they need to “Fill time,” so make sure that you always have some time fillers ready in advance. From worksheets to five-minute activities and games, this tip is indispensable if you don’t want your classroom to turn into total chaos.
  • A well-organized classroom means less stress for you and your students and more time for you to teach and for your students to learn. Organize everything, label everything, and prepare all materials (lessons, absence slips, field trip notes, progress report templates) all well in advance to make your life that much easier.

How to Make Learning Fun

Today’s children get bored real fast, and it’s especially tough to keep them engaged in lessons. Here are a few tips on how to make learning fun so that your students will enjoy what they are learning.

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  • Try and incorporate technology into anything and everything that you can. Like it or not, this is what motivates children these days, and is what they enjoy doing. So, if you can’t beat them, then join them. Implement iPads, tablets, computers, or video-conferencing into your day and you will see your students come alive.
  • Teach to your students’ abilities. This means using Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theory to help you guide the way your students learn and process information. Once you know what that is for each student, you will find that the children will enjoy learning a lot more.
  • Allow students to work together in cooperative learning groups. There has been extensive research on how students who work together retain information and learned better. Try and implement group work into your lessons and you will see your students thrive.

How to Avoid Teacher Burnout

Teaching is one of the most stressful career choices, and many teachers find that their stress levels are through the roof. Experienced teachers know a thing or two about how to combat stress and avoid that dreaded teacher burnout. Here are a few of their suggestions.

  • Take time for yourself. Go for a walk at night to unwind, go to a yoga class or to dinner with friends. Make sure that you are doing something for yourself each day so that you do not get burned out. A few moments to yourself or a few joyful activities can go a long way toward avoiding teacher burnout.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. There will be times when the little things will get to you, but remember you are there to teach children. When you find yourself getting upset about the little things that are not important, remind yourself why you became a teacher in the first place.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Every teacher has had that moment when they feel overwhelmed. It’s OK to ask for help, no one will judge you. Call parent volunteers or ask the teacher next door to help you. You will be surprised to know that they can be a valuable asset for you.

What Successful Teachers Do

There is a huge difference between what successful, effective teachers do and what unsuccessful, ineffective teachers do. Besides having a lot of experience and being patient, they really take the time to get to know their students. Here are a few more suggestions from real teachers with real experience in the field of education.

  • Successful teachers ask questions, not just yes or no questions to see if their students are paying attention, but real questions that make their students think. They ask, “Why do you think that?” and, “How do you know that?” -- questions to really challenge their students and push them to think more deeply.
  • Successful teachers know how to handle difficult students. They choose a discipline plan that encourages positive behavior and motivates their students to make good decisions. They combat classroom disruptions quietly and never embarrass a child in front of their classmates.
  • Successful teachers embrace technology and do not look at it like it is something negative for their students. They keep up-to-date on all of the latest devices and gadgets because they know that technology is the future of learning, and they want their students to be successful.

Do you have any advice for that you would like to share with your fellow educators? Please feel free to leave your tips and suggestions on any topic (not just the ones above) in the comment section below. We would love to hear what you have to say.

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 a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.