How Do The Best Teachers Motivate Their Students To Study?
Gone are the days when we said: “Spare the rod and spoil the child”. Children of this generation bloom well when properly nourished with kind words of encouragement, soft target setting and empowerment. The latest mantra is: “The best way to a child’s brain is through their heart”.
Children have abundant energy, knowledge and the capacity to execute. When tuned up the right way , they excel and multi task with ease.
HOW DOES OUR BRAIN REACT TO ‘ORDER AND REQUEST’?
When we order a child by giving a detailed step by step procedure of what has to be done, their brain gets into a passive mode, executes and shuts off. On the other hand, empowerment kindles the energy within the child, and the active state of execution begets other activities, like a banyan tree. The ripple effect of this positive reinforcement, in turn, creates self-motivation which is the ultimate requirement for a child.
So, the first step to motivation is ‘Positive Empowerment’. By empowerment, we allow the children to have freedom to think and execute and the onus is on them to perform and excel.
I would like to share one of my classroom experiences here: Our students are made to understand and believe that they need to compete with themselves and self-correction is the first step towards self-realization. Solution sheets (Answer keys) are given to them and they check and correct it by themselves before getting back to me. By empowering them, we boost their self-confidence which is the greatest motivator. These children understand that the corrections are for them to learn from their mistakes and not to judge them.
THE SECOND STEP IS APPRECIATION.
Children who are at the borderline of transition from “Not so interested” to “trying to get interested” definitely show remarkable improvement when they are appreciated for their effort or accuracy. I had a student who joined me when she was four years old, with the usual childlike tantrums. She would do only whatever she wished to, and could never be coaxed to complete the specific activities as required. Then during our Annual Day, she got awarded for her attendance, workbook neatness, tab and card and since then there was no looking back. This inspired her to write a story on how she came to like Math!
THE THIRD STEP IS SETTING TARGETS
Setting targets is a motivator of another kind wherein, children are made to realize their potential. Success begets success. Kids and parents are sometimes laid back in not knowing their potential and not being aware of the standards set in the outside world. So target setting is the right strategy and does not amount to stress, competition or jealousy. On the other hand, target setting gives the right amount of motivation to perform, self-correct, and excel. Without this kind of motivation, children tend to be laid back and the vicious cycle replaces the virtuous cycle. Simple target settings and rules imposition through polite statements like classroom behavior definitely induces motivation.
THE FOURTH STEP IS REWARDING.
Any target set, has to be rewarded, if achieved. The reward has to vary with time and with the expectations. All rewards should be subtle and linked to self growth and self motivation. For example, if the kids are set with a target of completing three sheets per class and when they reach the target, simple “efforts’ appreciation’’ in the class or in front of their parents or peer groups will go a long way in motivating them rather than giving expensive gifts or appreciations. All rewards should adhere to the minimum cost standards so as to not make the kids work only for the reward system but also to make them understand that their self development is of prime importance.
THE FIFTH STEP IS AWARENESS.
While we have a range of gifts to motivate the children, from general to personalized, they should be simultaneously made aware that they reap the rewards of success and the results accrue only to them as much as the reasons for failure. When the onus and responsibility are rightly assigned as told in Step 1, the child begins to be aware of the fruits of labor. This onus and responsibility, simultaneously teaches them self-reliance, self-respect, honesty and leadership. These children never fear or hide failure.
Adults and children are motivated by rewards, small words of courtesy, kindness and appreciation really goes a long way in encouraging them to achieve success .Rewards should be a mixture of goodies with huge elements of surprise, triggering the excitement to achieve more!
As these motivators help them to cross the first barrier of self-realization , the next steps of motivation should be to raise the bar every time and teach the child that goals are limitless and it’s the human capabilities which are ever expanding. In these situations, the rewards will be in giving the children more leadership roles as in helping and motivating other students to perform and excel.
Other kinds of awards should stimulate them to scale greater heights.