Henry Adams said, "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."
Good teachers can change the course of their students' lives with the inspiration they provide. Teaching is one of the most challenging jobs, a job like no other. A teacher can impact thousands of minds and leave an everlasting impression on them. A teacher can mould and shape young people into becoming achievers. It is not that teachers have a special magic wand – it is the little things that they do, that count.
Anybody can become a teacher – all they need is the right academic qualification and knowledge of the subject. However, to become a teacher par excellence requires more than academic qualification and knowledge. A teacher must be able to encourage students. The ability to guide and influence students is what sets great teachers apart from the average, run of the mill ones. This is a skill that needs to be acquired, it is not taught in a classroom environment. To be able to motivate, requires some effort, on the teacher's part.
To begin with, teachers who want to leave a lasting impression on their students must look at their profession as not just something that pays them but as something that gives them the 'power' to bring a change in the young people under their care. Once teachers realise the significance of the responsibility they have, and the power that they wield, the task becomes easier.
What does 'to motivate' mean?
The most crucial aspect of being a good teacher is being able to motivate students. What is this motivation and how can it be accomplished?
Motivation can be different things but can be broadly described as the ability to rouse an academic interest in students. A class of roughly 40-50 students coming from diverse backgrounds and having divergent personalities is bound to behave differently. Not all students in a class can be brilliant neither can all of them be interested in academics. Some students cope better than others with the pressure of studies and the world they live in. Some students care a hang and remain unfocused. Some students have set goals and they know what they want in life, others have no plans of where they want to see themselves in a few years. Some students participate and show a keen interest in the happenings in class others can be a distraction.
It is the teacher's job to get the entire class on more or less the same platform. It is the teacher's job to make the disinterested interested.
How does a teacher motivate?
Students, especially those in their teens are full of youthful energy that makes them believe that they are supreme. They also struggle with various pressures, starting from those related to hormones to peer pressure. Students at this age can also suffer from low self-esteem. They face challenges that adults cannot relate to, and it is often that they are unable to cope with what is happening in and around them, leaving them disgruntled and amiable.
Getting and holding the attention of a class full of such divergent personalities is a challenge that teachers face. It might look to be an impossible mission, but believe me, it can be done. I have been there, and done that, and am here, to share how it can be done.
Remember you are in command
If you are unable to motivate your students you will not have their attention. If you don't have their attention you are no longer in command. When students have your attention they learn better and retain whatever is taught. They also become willing participants in the classroom activities.
As a teacher, your role is pivotal in shaping student behaviour and engagement during class. How you interact with your students will determine how they behave. If you are resolute and take steps to forge a positive relationship with the wards under your charge you will make a positive impact on them. Your goal is to motivate the class – the first step is to take it as a challenge, but keep in mind that the rewards will make up for all the difficulties you face. As long as you stay positive, maintain your calm and remain determined nothing should be able to deter you from reaching your goals.
Remember you are the potter and your students the clay. So, go ahead and shape them.
Here are a few effective approaches that you can use to motivate them –
Teachers often have this invisible wall around them that makes it difficult for students to approach them. You can be friendly, without letting go of the commanding position you are in. Let your first interaction with your class be a social one. You are going to be with the class for at least a year, so why not begin the year on a nice friendly note.
Choose the icebreaker activity based on the class you are teaching. Conduct a game or tell jokes if the students are young. For the older lot, you can have a question-answer session. Set rules, though, no personal or ugly questions. Let students ask you questions. The best part about doing this activity is that you can turn the same questions to the students and make them participants. A student asks you who is your favourite actor or sportsperson, or why you became a teacher and you can give a response and ask them who their favourite people are or what they dream of becoming.
Icebreakers are important because students begin seeing you differently. You become approachable - the 'cool' teacher. Once they begin liking you, they are more likely to listen to you.
Have no favourites
It is so easy for teachers to have favourites in class. The most studious and best-disciplined child often becomes the teacher's pet. No biases please, avoid discrimination. Students know when teachers like particular students over others. It hurts them and they begin disliking the teacher and the subject being taught. Treat every student at par.
Get them to participate
Think outside the box to make lessons interesting. Create activities where every student has a responsibility. Divide the class into small groups. Here is the key, let students pick who they want to be paired with. Students form groups with classmates they are compatible with – this ensures a rapport. Since such activities are competitive, students generally do their best to stay on the top. You can be sure of eager students, willing to participate and going all out to excel.
There is a sense of accomplishment associated with group activities. Ideas flow freely, students' pool in resources to make their ideas work. They begin using their brains. It is an exercise that stimulates various aspects and the results are spectacular.
Encouragement is an elixir
Praise and encouragement have a direct and positive impact on performance. They create a feel good factor – release feel-good hormones that lead to better performance. In encouraging and praising students' teachers make them feel good about themselves. It ignites a fire in them, to do better the next time. They begin looking for the teacher's approval and slowly begin to bloom.
Students get enthused by constructive feedback and sense that they and their work is being recognised and appreciated. They begin looking up to the teacher and seek approval and positive comments. They are empowered when they know their efforts are appreciated and recognised. This also opens the door to better interaction between students and teachers. Students are not hesitant to approach the teacher with queries and problems. It is a healthy bond that bolsters every student's confidence. Aim at recognising every student's contribution and effort. Make your students feel respected and heard and you will have an environment conducive to teaching and learning.
Have a reward system
In junior classes, teacher award stars to motivate students. Older students can be rewarded, by a fun activity session each time the entire class finishes a project/lesson/activity/assignment. It helps to take the focus off studies to relax a bit.
Set targets, and let your students know that once everyone has completed the assignment you would have a fun session in class. If your school has an AV room you could organise the screening of a movie. You could have a talent show or form teams and have a quiz. Better still get ideas from the students on what they would like.
I assure you your class will be all charged up and ready to 'tackle' the next lesson. Such small incentives are such a wonderful way of stimulating students minds.
Liven up your lessons
The goal should be to get creative and avoid boredom. Make your lessons interesting – use teaching aids, have students create presentations, have discussions. Make lessons interactive, rather than giving boring lectures. Call for students to make working models and posters. This is surely going to encourage them and get the best out of them. Whenever possible draw parallels with what you teach to everyday situations, so students see an association and the importance of the topic. Doing so also helps them retain stuff.
Use the tips provided here to create your own unique teaching pattern where you can forge a bond with your students and are able to motivate each child in your class to reach their full potential. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments box and I will address them at the earliest.
Henry Adams said, "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."
Juana is a freelance writer publishing with Constant Content and other renowned websites. In addition to being a writer, she’s an avid reader, passionate about baking and honing her skills in the art of bonsai making. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree, with honours in Eng. Lit and is a qualified teacher.
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The greatness of any teacher is her ability to understand the needs and aspirations of every student and she is duty bound to understand their feelings while interacting on day to day basis. A teacher must remember that the child shares most of the day time with her and the teacher should be able to understand the child well. Some children are very quiet at the home and never open up , but they behave cozily with the teacher, the reason being she is playful and cheerful towards children. A child should not be chided in front of others. That is the great insult every child feels and what ever demerits are there in a child that must be told in person and not before other children. That way the child gets more attracted towards the teacher and he would listen all the orders and requirements stated by the teacher. And a teacher should never get agitated for the slow progress of a child, because he has not understood what the teacher has taught. That means he needs special care.