Committee for Children Blog

Make Motivation Easy

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Motivation is a mediator for academic and social success, so what can we do as adults to foster motivation in students? We can provide conditions that facilitate motivation through a strength-based perspective. My colleague often says, “People are naturally creative, resourceful, and whole”, which speaks to why we need to support students and not try and “fix” or blame them for not being motivated.

Start making motivation easy by creating and maintaining these four conditions:

Foster Student Engagement

Motivation is often necessary for student engagement in learning, and student engagement is connected to improved student learning outcomes. Because the two are integrally related, by promoting student engagement we also create opportunities to boost motivation. One way of doing this is to give students opportunities to contribute to class, school, and the community.

Meeting Student Needs for Belonging and Safety

Motivation comes from caring not scaring. Establish strong relationships by letting students know you care, because they care when they feel cared about. Build rapport and be people-focused instead of just task-focused. Show appreciation and value. Help them feel comfortable taking risks by encouraging them, reinforcing and modeling risk-taking.

Foster Safe Learning Environments with Social-Emotional Learning

Classroom environments and teacher actions can encourage or undermine student motivation. Social-emotional learning (SEL) helps to establish safe, caring learning environments by teaching students knowledge, attitudes, and skills in how to develop and maintain positive, meaningful relationships with peers and adults through empathy, emotion management, goal-setting, and problem solving. Engage students with social-emotional learning because one of the effects of quality SEL instruction is that it enhances student motivation. Whether directly or indirectly related to motivation, SEL benefits also include improved test scores, grades, attendance, confidence, persistence, connection and commitment to school, and sense of purpose,

Try to understand perspectives and motivations

Listen to, acknowledge, and give students voice, and you will learn about their worries, fears, and needs. Show interest in them. Ask about their day, their hopes, and their challenges. All these things can increase understanding of their motivations so you can build upon their interests and strengths.

How else do you create conditions for student motivation?