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50 Tips on Motivating Students

  1. Know your students and use their names as often as possible.
  2. Plan for every class; never try to wing it.
  3. Pay attention to the strengths and limitations of each of your students. Reward the strengths and strengthen the weak spots.
  4. Set your room in a U-shape to encourage interaction among the students.
  5. Send lots of positive messages with posters, bulletin boards, and pictures.
  6. Be sure that your classroom is comfortable; check the air circulation, temperature, lighting, and humidity.
  7. Periodically change assigned seating arrangement.
  8. Vary your instructional strategies; use illustrated lectures, demonstrations, discussion, computers, tutoring, coaching, and more.
  9. Review the class objective each day. Be sure the students see how the entire program moves along.
  10. Make your instruction relevant. Be sure your students see how the content relates to them and the world of work.
  11. Open each presentation with an introduction that captures the interest of your students.
  12. Move around the room as you teach; walk energetically and purposefully.
  13. Be expressive with your face—SMILE!
  14. Put some excitement into you speech; vary your pitch, volume and rate.
  15. Use demonstrative movements of the head, arms and hands; keep your hands out of your pockets.
  16. Use words that are highly descriptive; give lots of examples.
  17. Accept students’ ideas and comments, even if they are wrong; correct in a positive manner.
  18. Maintain eye contact and move toward your students as you interact with them; be sure to nod your head to show that you are hearing what they say.
  19. Give lots of positive feedback when students respond, offer their ideas, perform a task correctly, come to class on time, and bring their materials to class.
  20. Foster an active career student organization.
  21. Use appropriate humor in your teaching and in tests, to relieve anxiety.
  22. Post program-related cartoons, and use them on overheads and in handouts.
  23. Provide opportunities for the students to speak to the class.
  24. Be available before class starts, during break, and after class to visit with students who wish to see you.
  25. Return assignments and tests to students ASAP. Be sure to make positive comments and suggestions.
  26. Teach by asking lots of questions during introductions, presentations, demonstrations, and lab work.
  27. Plan lab activities so that all the necessary software, information, and materials are available when the students need to use them.
  28. Give the students an opportunity to participate in organizing and managing the computer lab.
  29. Be aware of those students requiring assistance, and then see that they get it.
  30. Maximize the use of time so that the students keep busy with productive, relevant activities.
  31. Be a model of the work ethic in your dress, language, support of the school, and respect for the profession.
  32. Be consistent in your treatment of students.
  33. Make sure that your tests are current, valid, and reliable. They must be based on your curriculum objectives.
  34. Organize a “student of the month” award in your classroom or career student organization (CSO).
  35. Invite parents, advisory committee members, and school administrators/counselors to visit your program for special activities.
  36. Plan relevant study trips out of the school.
  37. Bring dynamic subject matter experts into your program.
  38. Recognize appropriate behavior and reward it on a continuing basis.
  39. Use a surprise—an interesting video, special break, or similar activity—to reward the class for good behavior.
  40. Use games, project-based learning, and simulations to spark interest, provide a break in the routine, and to supplement a unit in your curriculum.
  41. Praise students in front of the class; reprimand them in private.
  42. Explain why rules are used, why activities are important, and why some requests must be denied.
  43. Involve all of your students in your teaching.
  44. Provide clear directions for program activities and assignments.
  45. Plan around 15-30 minute cycles—students have difficulty maintaining attention after a longer period of time.
  46. Provide opportunities for the students to read alone and in a group.
  47. Send “happy-grams” or emails home to parents periodically.
  48. Use task and job sheets to help students remember the steps to perform skills.
  49. Be enthusiastic about yourself, your students, and your profession.
  50. Network with other professionals: attend ESU workshops, conferences, and network electronically with other professionals and associations.

Adapted from: Turnbull, R.; Turnbull, A.; Shank, M.; & Smith, S.J. (2004) Exceptional lives: special education in today’s schools (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc., 148.

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