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SoTL in 10 minutes
The semester is not over, but either you and/or your students are running out of gas. This week’s theme will explore ways to rev up both engines for the long struggle to the finish line – for this semester at least.
Fine-tune the challenge. We’re most motivated to learn when the task before us is
matched to our level of skill: not so easy as to be boring, and not so hard as
to be frustrating. Deliberately fashion the learning exercise so that students
are working at the very edge of your abilities, and keep upping the difficulty
as they improve.
Start with the question, not the answer. Memorizing information is boring. Discovering the
solution to a puzzle is invigorating. Present material to be learned not as a fait
accompli, but as a live question begging to be explored.
Encourage students to beat their personal best. Some learning tasks, like memorizing the multiplication
table or a list of names or facts, are simply not interesting in themselves.
Generate motivation by encouraging students to compete against themselves: run
through the material once to establish a baseline, then keep track of how much
they improve (in speed, in accuracy) each time.
You can find all 12 if you follow the link, below are the ones that are more applicable for college students.
Excellence Set high,
yet realistic expectations. Make sure to voice those expectations. Set short
terms goals and celebrate when they are achieved.
Excitement Like a Virus Show your
enthusiasm in the subject and use appropriate, concrete and understandable
examples to help students grasp it. For example, I love alliteration. Before I
explain the concept to students, we “improv” subjects they’re interested in.
After learning about alliteration, they brainstorm alliterative titles for
their chosen subjects.
Mix It Up It’s a
classic concept and the basis for differentiated instruction, but it needs to
be said: using a variety of teaching methods caters to all types of learners.
By doing this in an orderly way, you can also maintain order in your classroom.
Some Control If students
take ownership of what you do in class, then they have less room to complain
(though we all know, it’ll never stop completely). Take an audit of your class,
asking what they enjoy doing, what helps them learn, what they’re excited about
21 Simple Ideas to Improve Student Motivation
The link is at the bottom, below I am just including the new ideas (not already presented Monday or Tuesday).
threat-free environment. While
students do need to understand that there are consequences to their actions,
far more motivating for students than threats are positive reinforcements. When
teachers create a safe, supportive environment for students, affirming their
belief in a student’s abilities rather than laying out the consequences of not
doing things, students are much more likely to get and stay motivated to do
their work. At the end of the day, students will fulfill the expectations that
the adults around them communicate, so focus on can, not can’t.
your scenery. A classroom
is a great place for learning, but sitting at a desk day in and day out can
make school start to seem a bit dull for some students. To renew interest in
the subject matter or just in learning in general, give your students a chance
to get out of the classroom. Take field trips, bring in speakers, or even just
head to the library for some research. The brain loves novelty and a new
setting can be just what some students need to stay motivated to learn.
self-reflection. Most kids
want to succeed, they just need help figuring out what they need to do in order
to get there. One way to motivate your students is to get them to take a hard
look at themselves and determine their own strengths and weaknesses. Students
are often much more motivated by creating these kinds of critiques of
themselves than by having a teacher do it for them, as it makes them feel in
charge of creating their own objectives and goals.
What not to do
So you have paid attention Monday through Wednesday and are trying to spice it up, but…
Don't use active learning without giving students insight into why you are teaching this way, especially if your class is not used to this type of learning in your class. Even if you have been doing active learning all along, what is obvious to you is still new to them.
Don’t immediately tell the students the answer and/or explanation. This is tempting when you are pressed for time and trying to finish the last half of the book in the next 2.5 weeks. They may be tired and overworked – but they should still have to think.
Don’t forget that your students are complete individuals, with multiple classes, multiple deadlines and other part-time to full-time challenges (jobs, commutes, athletics, families). Let them know that you are a complete person too – that the stress of this time of year get to you as well.
How can you stay motivated…this late in the semester…behind in grading.
Everyone has a box or drawer where they keep those special notes – special students who took the time to thank and appreciate you. Grab a coffee and reminisce.
If you stay in touch with former students on social media or other mechanisms, reach out to one. You share in their success, bask in their glory.
Reread some of last week’s SoTL in 10 minutes – remember your work life balance. Do something for you! Professionally or personally, an hour away from it all might give you the strength to push through.