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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Motivate the unmotivated

Motivate the unmotivated

Related Tags: Student Engagement
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45 Replies 1129 Views

I struggle every year with at least one student who just has that "I don't really care" attitude! I try everything from bribery to being a good listener. I try new angles that will maybe connect with the student or shed some light on what will motivate them to move into action. Does anyone have any good ideas.... new or old that have worked?

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Jason Novak's picture

Depending on the age however rewards might engage the student. Giving away a "super star award"--its amazing what 6yr olds will do for stickers, or maybe letting a stuffed animal or trophy adorn a desk. Now, Im elementary and that only works till about 3rd grade. then after that some of them are just "to cool for school". Alot of times the apathetic<---spelling? student has family issues or self issues. We have at my school a mentor program, it might be as simple as letting him/her spend time with another teacher that they view as a friend. Because you are "the teacher" sometimes its hard for them to open up and really discuss whats on their mind and in their heart.

KVaughan's picture

I have a very difficult time rewarding students who are not following the classroom rules. I feel that it sets the teacher up for problems with the students in the room who are following the rules. If students do not feel that the teacher is fair and consistent with all of the students in the room it can be a disaster. That being said, I do try to develop a special relationship with the student in question. Often time I make them my "go to" student for errands and the like. Often times these students have never received positive reinforcements or the trust of a teacher. I have had a lot of success with this strategy.

Julie's picture
k-3 special education teacher from Ohio

I agree that you must set and follow your classroom rules consistently and follow through with the consequences that you have set. You have to get to know the child and show interest in them. They have to know that you care about them personally and not just about the work you want them to do. Many children do not have the pleasure of an adult actually listening to them.
I work with younger children so my world is quite different than dealing with middle school or high school students. I have center time and computer times set throughout the day which they find motivating, but that is the first thing they lose if they are not working. My rule when I give them an assignment is "do it right, do it now or do it over." If they refuse, they lose that center or computer time,then they stay at recess or I sometimes make arrangements for them to stay after school to finish the job. It infringes on my lunch and planning sometimes, but usually, they shape up when they see you mean what you say. It can be very tiresome with a difficult child because they have learned how to manipulate. My supervising teacher used to say, "You have to win." Hang in there, be consistent and never give up on that child. You may make more difference than you realize.

Carrie's picture
5th Grade Teacher

I teach at the elementary level...5th grade right now.

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