Motivating Students Through Increased Engagement

Chad OstrowskiBlog, Class Management, Mastery Learning

Motivating Students Through Increased Engagement

Motivating Students Is Always A Challenge.

Motivating students is one of the most elusive and commonly discussed topics during my work with teachers. Many times, the conversation starts with a statement like, “They just won’t do the work,”or, ”I can’t get them motivated.” I’ve said these things myself, and I’m sure you have, too.

The common theme in both of these statements is that they revolve around the idea that a student doesn’t care. I know this may very well be the direct cause of a lack of motivation, but I encourage you to take a step back and look a bit deeper into the situation. WHY are you students not motivated? What is the root cause of their lack of effort?

If the learner isn’t engaged in the process of learning, there is little chance they will be motivated to do the work. Your students need to be excited and encouraged to work, and a lot of times it’s going to more than just telling them they need to learn something. They need to be engaged. An engaged student is something special. When you see a student that is fully engaged, fully “in” to their learning, it is incredible to watch.

So how do we do this? How can we increase engagement in order to increase student motivation? There are a lot of resources out there that can help motivate even your most reluctant students. Here are just a few ways you can improve classroom engagement to motivate your students.

The more students own their learning, the more motivated and engaged they will become. Click To Tweet

Make Real World Connections:

This sounds easy, but it’s something that is often overlooked. If students can’t connect the work and content they are learning with the world around them, not only will they disengage, but they will not have the motivation to complete the work itself. Using methods like the Teach Further Model to create dynamic, community-driven units, can embed these connections into everything your students do. This will increase student engagement and motivation to work harder and learn more. There are a ton of connections to your content that already exist, like connecting math skills to the real-life chaos of working in a restaurant when all the registers go down and you need to calculate everything by hand or lose your customers. Look around your community, look at the careers your students might be pursuing some day, and then find ways to make those connections explicit for your learners.

Increase Student Ownership / Choice

The more students own their learning, the more motivated and engaged they will become. A lot of “passive” reactions to learning tasks come from a lack of student control. If a student doesn’t value the work, or doesn’t feel like they have any control of what, why, or when they are learning, their engagement can plummet and their motivation will be right behind it. Using  mastery based models and finding ways for your students to have more control is a great way to increase ownership which can translate to engagement and student motivation.

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Hold Students Accountable

Creating a culture in your classroom where students are held accountable and there is a focus on individual growth and progress is a great way to increase engagement. Many times students will disengage from work when they feel as though they aren’t personally accountable for the information or effort being given. I alway say, as soon as student figures out that you care more about their work than they do, they own you. I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about their work, not at all. But your students need to feel that ownership, because it leads to a higher level of caring because they can no longer put the blame on you when they don’t try. When each student in your class is held accountable and the proper culture is created, they will see more purpose and meaning to their work, which gives them a reason to further engage. This additional purpose will also translate into motivation.

While there are a lot of things you can do to increase student motivation, focusing on engagement is definitely one you should focus on. It is a driving force for student motivation, and if you keep them engaged, you can keep them more focused and more productive in your class.