Any teacher knows that a motivated student is easier to teach, as they are more willing to learn. However, one can not overlook the students who aren’t motivated because they are more difficult to teach.

How can a teacher encourage students to become more motivated? Countless studies and articles have been published on the subject, and there are several tried and true methods that work for many.

For example, sometimes, it can be as simple as giving students the feeling of control over their education. Provide a difficult student with a choice on what to learn next, or something equally simple, and see how it works out. The odds are good that this sense of control will help to motivate the student.

Another method for driving motivation is the promotion of growth mindsets over fixed mindsets. That is to say; teachers should be encouraging the idea that everyone can grow, get better, become smarter if they put in the hard work to do so. This is counter to a fixed mindset belief, which holds that inherent abilities cannot be changed. It’s easy to see how the latter can be counter to encouraging students to try harder, especially when they’re already struggling.

On a related note, the way a teacher rewards students can play a significant role in motivation and engagement. While it may seem like the right call, rewarding students for their intelligence is perhaps not the right move. Studies have shown that this can make a student less willing to take risks (out of fear of looking foolish)—instead, reward students on the amount of effort they put into something. 

As already discussed, a motivated student is easier to teach. Sometimes motivation can come from something as simple as interest. Thus, it’s essential to try and make all lessons relevant to the students. Help them understand the usefulness and connections for what they are learning – the reason why it all matters.

Other simple yet effective tricks for increasing motivation include making a point of learning students’ names, paying attention to individual needs and struggles, customizing lessons, and varying up daily routines. Naturally, this is far from being a complete list, as a teacher’s educational arsenal is a massive one, as required.

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Dr. Stephen Patterson was with the Orangefield Independent School District from 2002 to 2019. Outside of his career, he is an active and involved member of his community. Learn more about Stephen Patterson and his insights on leadership and education by checking out,,