5 Power Strategies for Motivating Students who Don’t Care?

motivating students


and KEEPING them motivated

Motivating students is probably one of the most difficult tasks when relief teaching. There are a lot of unmotivated kids out there.

But then, unfortunately, there are a few who are relief teaching without a lot of motivation too. An unmotivated relief teacher always has difficulty motivating students.

Luckily there are teaching strategies that will help and there are a couple of dirty little secrets that I can let you in on too.

We all know that motivating students will help with behaviour management. Motivated students seldom misbehave. Unfortunately, unmotivated kids always do.

In fact, if your teaching strategies are not motivating students, you will probably be having one tough relief teaching days. These teaching strategies might help motivating students and maybe even relief teachers.

Teaching strategies for Motivating Students

motivating students


Not surprisingly, students tend to do poorly on tasks because they do not understand what to do or why they should do it.

If relief teaching, spend more time explaining

  • why we teach what we do and
  • why the activity is important.

In fact, on some of my relief teaching gigs, I have found it worthwhile even explaining the teaching strategies that I use. Students who are uncertain about what to do will seldom perform well and with almost no motivation at all.

To the question, “When will we ever use this?” there are several answers.

(1) You never know when knowledge and skills will be useful.

(2) Whether or not you ever use this specific knowledge is less important than the fact that you are learning how to learn.

Athletes never ask why they have to do push ups. Why? Because they know that it is all part of being a good athlete. This is part of you being a good student.

motivating students


I am sorry to bring this old argument up.

I know there are those who will throw their hand up and exclaim, “Honestly! Why should we reward students for just coming to school? Isn’t learning its own reward?”

Yeah right!

Would YOU be working if you didn’t get paid?

The good kids have developed their own sense of intrinsic reward but many do not yet have the intrinsic motivation to learn.

Rather than criticizing unwanted behaviour or answers, reward correct behaviour and answers.

Use teaching strategies where students CAN be rewarded.

Behaviours rewarded are behaviours repeated.

Rewards can be as simple as a pat of the back or some form of acknowledgement in front of peers.

Most classrooms have stickers, some classrooms have prizes etc.What ever lights your fire!

A powerful reward is a phone call to mum/dad in front of the class. I have used this a lot.

Whip out the phone, call in front of the kid and the class.

A 30 second conversation which goes something like this. “Hello Mr Brown. This is Bob Brandis. I’m sorry to interrupt but I just rang to say Bill is having a fabulous day and trying his hardest at his school work. Thanks for your support at home. Have a nice day!”

Honestly, every mouth drops in the class and Mr Brown is probably receiving CPR at work.

I have even left the same message on answering machines. You can imagine the kid’s rush to get home and wait for Mum to arrive.

Which ever teaching strategies you use, the important point is that extrinsic motivators can, over a brief period of time, produce intrinsic motivation.

  • why we teach what we do and
  • why the activity is important.
motivating students


I don't hold too strongly to the romantic view of teachings.

I don't "love" teaching kids.

It's a pretty cool job but it is only job after all.

But if you are here for a greater calling - good for you.

I am passionate about making sure students know I care about their results.

Students respond to teachers who appear to be caring.

Personalizing of the student/teacher connection allows students see teachers as approachable.

Show that you care about your students by asking about their goals, what they plan to do in the future, what things they like.

motivating students


One of the major keys to motivation is the active involvement of students in their own learning.

Use teaching strategies that get students involved in activities.

It's really not difficult to have students participate in their own learning. Such involvement also creates a greater ownership.

Behaviour Management Strategies


It has been said that presenting conclusions first and then providing examples robs students of the joy of discovery.

Why not present some examples first and ask students to make sense of them.

Students could try to generalize and draw the conclusions themselves?

By beginning with the examples and arriving at conclusions later, you can maintain interest and increase motivation.

It will also allow students to learn the skills of analysis and synthesis.

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