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Title 1 School How to Motivate!!! PLEASE READ!!! It's more than just motivating.

Title 1 School How to Motivate!!! PLEASE READ!!! It's more than just motivating.

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Hi, My name is Linda and I've been teaching at a sixth grade campus for eleven years now. I make sure that I have procedures set up at the beginning of the year, but it seems like things just fall apart pretty fast. We now have a new curriculum that was bought from another district and I now found out that that district is looking for a new curriculum. My problem is lack of motivation, enthusiasm, interest, etc. I teach social studies and we use History Alive for some of our lessons. The students know that I have expectations of them. Some of them include sitting up in the chair, feet under the desk, coming into the classroom and take out their agenda and folder first and to quickly start writing what I have up on the screen for the objective or lesson for the day. We are getting ready to start our third six weeks and I still have a lot of students that come in and sit down with backpack still on their back and act like they have no idea of what to do. Some of the students say "Oh my God" when I remind them to get things done. Some students say "I just got here." I have been teaching for seventeen years now and most of those years have been in Title I schools. I talked with the principal who is a new principal this year. She has a doctorates degree. She told me that she has taught in Title 1 middle schools before. She told me that she used an apron with several pockets with many different slips of paper. Like: "Good job for participating" etc. She also told me the importance of making connections with the students. All of the teachers are complaining about the behavior of the students and it seems like it's worse than ever before. I want good behavior, but I'm just stuck. I know that the home lives of many of these students are not very good and I know that most of them have not seen their parents or parent working on goals. If there is a goal, many times it's just survival. I am feeling very emotional at this moment of writing. I really do want to be a good teacher in being able to making a change. I need the tools, but I don't know where to go. I don't think it's as simple as a class managemment class. I am begging for any suggestions. I care about these students a lot!!! I also have all of the information on Whole Brain Teaching or, as it's called now "Power Teaching" Please help me with the tools that I need. Thank you, Linda

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M. Rauh's picture
M. Rauh
6th grade social studies & science teacher from Colorado

I feel like I am having daily battles with my current kids to start their warm-ups. One thing that has worked - evoking the spirit of competition (in a friendly way). Middle school kids love to compete so with my current group, I keep a tally on the board for each class to see which class I have to remind the least to come in and sit down quietly. To change it up, I have also done a class GPA contest (my gradebook can calculate a whole class GPA for me). This takes pressure off individual kids and makes them work as a team to do their best (to beat the other classes). Group or individual competitions work great, too. For example, I have a "slate" that acts as a digital mouse so kids can "write" on the screen. Kids will compete to write down the best answer just to get to rewrite it using this technology (easy reward). I have one little guy who wasn't writing his answers on his sheet, but when I told him he couldn't write on the screen if there wasn't anything on his paper, he jumped in and started participating.

On another note: at a recent training another teacher mentioned that we sometimes make our classrooms like Starbucks and just as this coffee shop has rules which alienate many coffee drinkers (knowing how to order, where, to order, what to order), our classrooms sometimes alienate our students. So decide what is absolutely essential to a good learning environment and drop the rest.

Also, I like your principal's sheet of paper idea. It's a concrete "where are you now?" comment for kids that helps you give feedback without pausing whatever else you're doing. I use a sticky-note template to print similar notes. They range from "see me after class" to more focused feedback about a specific activity (mini-rubrics where I can circle things that I see missing, slap it on their paper, and walk away).

My current group of students is similar to yours and they THRIVE on instant feedback, so some well-prepared notes can go a long way. I hope that helps. Good luck and keep your chin up (I know I am trying to - although some days I feel like I am devolving into angry teacher much too often).

Holly Willis's picture
Holly Willis
Former Social Media Marketing Assistant at Edutopia

Hi Linda,

You bring up a couple challenges that I think a lot of teachers face. I wanted to bring in a few more suggestions for you from our Twitter audience, but unfortunately the 140 character limit wouldn't allow me to ask it all :) Instead, I asked our followers specifically:

How do you start class so students are ready to learn?

Here are some of the responses. I hope it helps!

Jonathan: Have "Do Now" ? on the screen. Immediate activity, mostly reviewing previous days lesson. 5 minutes into class, 1 lrning activity done. Students know to get started on their own. I have 1/2 sheet paper by door they grab when walking in. 3 minutes and then 3-5 share.

Toby: We like to start classes with brain breaks or dances its gets blood pumping to the brain

Dani: Stretching! I love having middle schoolers stretch before we start class! It gets their blood flowing and minds thinking.

Patrick: Greet them as they walk in and then have some sort of a warm up ready to go (flashback, a Socrative quiz, probing question).

Linda: I highly recommend Harry Wong's book, "The First Days of School". I keep it on hand and refer to it often.

Robin's picture
Sixth Grade Social Studies


Have you found something that works? I've been using Class some...but your class sounds just like I was wondering if you had some insight to share.


Nicole Honour's picture

I am anxiously awaiting the posts for this one as I am facing the same at the end of the 3rd quarter the students' disregard for the expectations and routine is disheartening...

Maria M's picture

Hi there, Linda. All the comments above are great. I would like to ask if you've considered using Brain Pop or Flocabulary as a way of engaging students in their learning? You can check out their websites for more info.

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