Three Golden Rules For Motivating Disaffected Learners

by Jayne Garner - Date: 2007-04-10 - Word Count: 664 Share This!

Three Golden Rules for motivating disaffected learners

These are the three Golden Rules for motivating students - the foundations for getting through to disaffected learners.
If your answer to any of these questions is 'no' - don't worry - you're not alone. But experience tells us that if you are willing to apply these principles to your teaching, you will see your students' motivation increase significantly.

1. Do you Test and Measure every aspect of your lessons?

Being outstanding at teaching disaffected learners is actually fairly straightforward - but so few teachers do it. You just need to continually test and adapt new teaching strategies on a small scale. It may be a new lesson starter, using a new resource, instigating collaborative working techniques, student-led projects, negotiation techniques. You test small, then you measure the results. How did it go? What response did it generate? Did all the class engage and work? If it was not successful, you've learnt an important lesson and move on. If it was successful, you roll it out and make it an integral part of your teaching armoury.

If you tested five new things every month and just one out of the five was successful (if you use our monthly teaching strategies it's more likely to be four out of five) then at the end of a year you would have twelve new proven teaching strategies to add to your mix. So testing and measuring all of your teaching is the first golden rule for motivating learners.

Of course, before you test new teaching approaches, you need to be testing and measuring what you are already doing. For example, the number of teachers who stand up and teach every day and have never accurately measured the response and therefore don't know if they are getting through - is scary.

If you're going to be great at motivating learners, you must, must test and measure everything.

2. Are you clear what the purpose of your teaching activities are?

Outstanding teachers share a similar way of thinking about their work. The highest purpose of their work is not to just earn money (clearly!) or get results. The highest purpose of their teaching is to add real value to the lives of their students.

We're not talking about some vague concept of adding value. We're talking about a deep commitment to enhance the lives of those you teach. Why is this so important? It is the single most effective tool any teacher can employ. Think about your own life - if you call a company and they just want to make money from you, you can tell instantly can't you? But if you call a company and they're willing to do whatever it takes to make your life easier, solve your problems, meet your needs and answer your questions - don't you just love it?

When we stop obsessing about how difficult teaching our subject or students or whatever is, and start obsessing about adding enormous value to the lives of our students - our success rates soar - and as an added bonus, teaching becomes much more pleasurable.

3. During your lessons do you explain the direct BENEFITS of your subject?

One of the biggest mistakes that teachers make is focusing on the specific details of their product or service, rather than explaining the direct benefits it offers students.

Hard-to-reach students will only be truly motivated by you when they, either consciously or sub consciously understand how they are going to benefit from what you are teaching them. What is in it for them?

Every conversation you have and every paragraph of your worksheets and teaching materials should convey the benefits of what you are teaching. Of course, for this to happen YOU have to be clear on what these benefits are. Sometimes, we're so close to our subject that's not such an easy question to answer. Ask some of your colleagues what they think the top three benefits of your subject is. If they hesitate - you've identified the first area where you can make a significant difference to your students.

Related Tags: tips, motivation, teaching, motivating, disaffected, worksheets

You'll find that Axis Education's published resources have all been produced as a direct response to student interest and need. Our latest Basic skills for work series is a case in point. Phil Freeman found that even those students who were achieving academically just didn't have the taken-for-granted life skills needed to get into and to get on in work. You can see his response for yourself - download free samples of his book from our website.

About Axis Education

Axis Education is the UK's leading independent provider of innovative publications for adult learners and disaffected secondary school students. Our publications are successful because they really do work in the classroom and they have arisen from proven grass-roots need. This is what we believe in, and it's what you have told us is important. From the outset, Axis Education materials have been produced to the highest standards. During all aspects of development - from content and teaching strategies to graphic design and illustration, the particular needs of students are carefully considered.

At Axis Education, we place enormous importance on being close to the classroom. We have a number of teachers on staff, and all of our publications are authored by practitioners.

Jayne Garner

Jayne is a literacy specialist with particular expertise in motivating disaffected learners. She is the Managing Editor of Axis Education.

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