Teaching is one of the oldest professions there is. And being a teacher can be a rewarding experience. But shaping the future of tomorrow is a huge responsibility and not always easy. One of the biggest challenges I had to overcome was learning how to motivate my students.
When I dreamt of becoming a teacher, I envisioned myself in front of a class of eager students following my every command. I saw myself creating lessons that captivated my students and dazzled them with my knowledge. This was not to be. I found myself thinking about that proverbial man leading the horse to water.
Motivating someone to do something that they really don’t want to do can be done with incentives such as payment, bribery, or with threat, but a teacher can’t do any of those things. What we can do is learn to be creative. Gone are the days when the teacher stands in front of the room lecturing.
The main thing that I learned about motivation is that you have to make the work not seem like work. One needs to make it interesting to the student. One way I did this was to incorporate the idea of novelty into my lessons.
It had to be different. For example, if I wanted the students to write a story. I would create or buy die cut-outs of different objects and have the students either pick one or just pass them out randomly. Then I would ask the students to write about their object. It’s more fun to write on a cute, colorful cut-out than plain old notebook paper.
I have supplied a stack of magazines and had the students pick out a picture they liked. After gluing the picture on a paper plate, they created a piece of writing and wrote it on the plate below the picture.
To help teach short story elements and grammar rules, I created a PowerPoint using pictures of my cats captured in the funniest poses. I would freeze on one of the slides and then as a group, my students would create a story to explain the picture. Then we used sentences from the story to label parts of speech. The kids really like it when I personalize lessons too because they get to know me better as a person.
Motivation is not hard to achieve. You just have to find the right tools for you. I found mine by asking other teachers, attending workshops, and just by being open to the new possibilities of change. I want to be the best teacher that I can be, and if that means tricking them into lapping at the fountain of knowledge while having fun, then so be it!