3 Practical Ways to Motivate Your Students

by Belinda Howard
6 May 2020

As teachers we provide the knowledge and skills for students to complete their work. Our creative delivery methods of these are what makes us teachers.

We are here to encourage. We are here to inspire.

In the current climate though it is hard to do these things when you are not in front of your students in a classroom. New challenges have been created for all teachers and now it is not just about motivating students – it is also supporting parents to assist their children in remote learning.

Establishing structure is important to keep parents and students in control during this chaotic time and creates a means of consistency. By creating timetables, clear expectations and boundaries for our students we can support them in being self-motivated and resilient human beings.

Here are 3 practical ways to motivate students during remote learning:

1. Student Voice

One of the best strategies in my teaching toolkit is student voice. It is more than just students "having a say" it is about actively using student voice to shape a student’s educational experiences.

When we set out to create our remote teaching timetable we spent time asking our students how they could best learn at home. We gave them scenarios to help in their decision making and used their opinions to put together how and when they would work throughout the day.

The template that we used in creating each of the students’ timetables looked the same but there were slight variations in each timetable that specifically catered to each student.

Student voice leads to student ownership and better student outcomes.

2. Mix learning styles 

Variety is the spice of life! It keeps students excited about learning. Understanding how your students learn best can help you formulate a system of teaching that has enough variety to keep them motivated about their learning.

Ensuring in your daily program that you have a mixture of the learning styles in the VARK model can support engagement and increase motivation in learning.

Last week we wanted to spend a day focussing on change. Our students were going through massive changes in their education delivery and resilience was so important to  building the foundation for their learning this term. Our timetable included: 


9.00am – 9.30am

  • Morning checking – video conference 
  • Word of the Day – “Change” 
  • Students discuss their definition of change and then we step onto google images.  
  • By simply typing in "change" you are given multiple images that describe and define change. As a class we look over them and then students are given 2 minutes to write down as many words as they can that are synonyms of change. 

9.30 – 10.30 

  • Students are given access online to a poster on change 
    • Then they look at this image 

      • Followed by this question


10.30 – 11.00

  • Students are asked to investigate:  
  • “What are 5 things in your kitchen right now that can be added to water to change its colour?”  
  • They had the opportunity to go through their kitchen (with their parent’s permission) and experiment with different foods.  
  • We had some fantastic responses! 

11.00 – 11.30

  • Morning Tea time

11.30 – 12.30

  • Students are given an online stimulus “Strategies for coping with change” 
  • Questions are provided that give students the opportunity to reflect on their ability to cope with change. 

We created a program that included all aspects of the VARK model and that also included transferrable skills into their real life. Which leads me to my last way to motivate students…

3. Listen and Explain

Humans need positive interaction. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs explains that a sense of belonging and love are needed for a positive and healthy life. Meaning that relationships are at the core of everything we should be doing as a teacher. By building positive healthy relationships with our students and modelling these relationships to our students, they can better understand how they need to behave.

For me in the classroom, stopping, listening to a child and explaining the why – has always gone a long way to calming down situations and nurturing education and learning.

If I have a young people that "needs" to talk it’s important to me that I listen and then respond to them in a calm and factual way.

Last week on our video conference, we had a student that didn’t understand that even in isolation we expected learning to occur at home. He believed that he could ‘catch up’ upon his return and use this time to play video games. So, I took the time to call him and listen to his concerns and I explained mine – I was extremely transparent about how education works and deadlines and why I needed to make sure he got through to the end. He in turn listened to my concerns and with a bit of negotiating (student voice) we managed to create a new timetable for him. Once that allowed him to play video games, complete the work that I required and better cope with the changes to education this term.

Motivating and inspiring students is what we do every day as teachers. Here are just 3 strategies I have in my toolkit. We would love to hear your strategies! The Mighty Minds Teachers Group on Facebook is there to support teachers and provide a place for us all to support each other. Please join up and watch out for the freebies!

View more articles