Student Motivation = Better Classroom Management

There are many ways to improve classroom management.  In this article we will look at one way that classroom management can be improved: increasing student motivation.  The implication is that if students are motivated they will be less likely to engage in disruptive classroom behaviors.  The following are ten ways that teachers can increase motivation with their students.  School leaders can use these tips to coach teachers on how to motivate students to improve teaching, learning and classroom management.

  1. Provide students with choice.  Choice leads to feelings of autonomy and self-efficacy which increase motivation according to Daniel Pink’s work in his seminal work ‘Drive’.  Total choice is rarely an option, however teachers can provide students with choice within parameters.  
  2. Be excited.  If the teacher isn’t excited about content, why would the students get excited? When students are excited about learning, motivation goes up. 
  3. Get students intrinsically motivated.  Find ways to help students see the value of the content of your course by relating your course to their lives, their aspirations and their passions.  
  4. Use extrinsic motivators.  Positive reward systems such as earned positive praise can motivate students.  Keep the golden ratio in mind for positive feedback: 3-5 positive interactions for every corrective feedback.  
  5. Set realistic expectations.  Individual learning rates and goals can help keep students motivated to try their personal best and not get discouraged by standardized goals that may not relate to their zone of proximal development.  
  6. Reduce students’ fear of trying and anxiety.  Failure is an option, and a less critical approach can reduce students anxiety. Keep your classroom positive by focusing on a growth mindset.  If students do not succeed the first time, be supportive and understanding and teach resilience.  
  7. Be empathetic.  Attempt to see things from your students’ point of view when possible.  This doesn’t mean you need to be completely relativistic, but putting yourself in your students’ shoes will help your students feel supported and safe which according to Maslow can lead to students realizing their full potential.  
  8. Make things fun.  School should be enjoyable, students should look forward to coming to school and all the exciting activities you have planned.  Not everything has to be fun, however sprinkling enjoyable activities into your routine can keep students motivated. 
  9. Harness student interests.  What are your students interests, do they love sports, dancing, theater?  Find out their interests and work these interests into your content, increasing relevance and student-centeredness. 
  10. Allow students to work together.  Social interaction may increase levels of motivation for some students.  A common group goal can increase levels of accountability. Group norms and roles are recommended to keep students accountable for group work and reduce free-loading. 

While there are many other ways to motivate students, hopefully you now have a working list of ways to keep students interested in your content via motivation.    As educational leaders, we can work to coach teachers on how to motivate students. If students are motivated, you may very likely see classroom management improve and behavioral concerns reduce.

Works Cited: 
21 Simple Ideas to Improve Student Motivation. Teachthought.com. 2017. 

The Ideal Praise to Criticism Ratio. Harvard Business Review. 2013.
Motivating Kids in Physical Activity. Weiss, Maureen.  2000.

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