Inspiring Students to Learn

As I’ve written before, a teacher’s first and foremost job is to motivate students to learn. Teachers need to look in the mirror each morning and say, “I am a motivator. I find ways to inspire every child in my class to want to learn.” I hope I don’t offend too many here, but almost anyone can stand in front of a class in a typical school setting and spew forth knowledge, assign homework, administer tests, and calculate grades. A computer could do many of those tasks, and a class monitor can manage discipline.

No, a teacher does more than “give them the opportunity to learn if they want to.” A teacher inspires. There is a wealth of good ideas regarding how teachers inspire kids, but I found a few recent blogs that add to the discussion. Eric MacKnight gives four ways to inspire students:

  1. Be passionate yourself and share your passion with your students.
  2. Be able to explain the age-old question, “why do we need to learn this?”
  3.  Teach for understanding.
  4. Be supportive, kind, and open.

Instructional coach David Ginsburg writes about a transformational moment he had in his work with disadvantaged students. He developed the acronym HEART (hope, effort, attitude, resourcefulness, and teamwork) to help his students see a path to success. To his surprise he found that, in his words, “hope for disadvantaged black kids would never come from a privileged white guy preaching optimism.” He realized that his task was to create a classroom where his actions, more so than his words, helped students make connections between what they believed and did and the results they got.

What do you think? Share with us what qualities make for a great teacher.  Some comments I’ve received in my travels include:

  • I think teachers who are open and understanding have the most success at reaching students.
  • My students enjoy hearing about my experiences and sharing their own. I don’t think that is a digression from teaching as long as I don’t overdo it.
  • Teachers have to care for kids, really love them, and want to know them personally.
  • Students will do anything for you if you make a personal connection with them.
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About mprater

I'm a recently retired school teacher/administrator continuing to help people grow through personal learning. When not blogging, I do consulting work for schools and organizations, make presentations at conferences, and research for publication. At the same time, I have to set aside enough time to enjoy the "good life" of retirement!
This entry was posted in Administrators' Corner, Student Motivation, Teacher Motivation, Teaching Tips and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Inspiring Students to Learn

  1. Pingback: “It’s just an assignment” has been stricken from my vocabulary forever! | EDU 5040

  2. Hi 🙂 This is probably not the right place but could be interresting anyway 🙂 I really would like to ask you something and hope that you won´t mind to drop a few words (excuse my poor skills but I´m French). So! I spend besides my teaching work, a lot of time producing 3D. That is because I enjoy it soooooo much but some people in my entourage and that includes from work, really do not understand why I´m doing that and why I do stuff just for learning´s sake. I´m a teacher at a Swedish Cutting edge educational program (secondary school) where kids among other things learn advanced 3D i open source. The thing is, I produce a lot, show the results to my students and hope to inspire them, always update myself and hopefully they choose to learn from it. Some do and some don´t!. You know how it is with 16 years old kids but I never gice up 🙂 I always try new methods to make them understand that learning is never wrong. Constructivism/constructionism are the learning methods I use the most to reach my students. Sometimes I even use less conventional methods to make the point (within the school curriculum of course) So!!!! What do you think! I´m just so fed up with people/teachers who think that I´m not normal just because I practice something i really enjoy! My teaching job has in fact become my hobby 🙂

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