Motivation Methods and Suggestions
Teaching in a Title 1 school can be one of the most daunting or rewarding tasks. As an educator, your heart goes out to a student that tells you, “I couldn’t do my homework because we didn’t have electricity." Reaching these students is essential to their success in the classroom. As a teacher who once taught in this type of school, I spent a great deal of time getting to know my students and finding out their interests, problems and situations in life. Class discussions or assignments at the end of a class period provide perfect opportunities for them to open up and get some of their bottled up feelings out. Middle school students love to participate in controversial discussion topics. These discussions are often very revealing and often times can help them to better understand their own lives and home situations.
After listening to my students talk about their interests, hobbies, and learning what makes them "tick", I would then incorporate their favorites into my lessons when possible. This told the students I was really listening when they were talking and that I did care about them. A pat on the back, a high-five, a round of applause in class or a gold star sticker might sound cheesy, but for these students, it’s what they are missing at home. It’s important the students find success early. Creating assignments that are manageable encourages confidence. Then, slowly increasing the difficulty as the year progresses provides the students with growing knowledge.
Another student motivation tactic I used was a prize box or bag. I’d buy cheap prizes: plastic rings, puzzles, bouncy balls, sticky hands, candy and other small toys in bulk. I built up the importance of picking something from the prize bag and reserved it for special or big achievements. I would decorate a tote bag to make it look festive and "special" and would call the students up to the front of the class to emphasize the importance of what they did. The students took pride in their achievements.