Motivate Your Students to Become Life-Long Learners

As educators, parents, and mentors, one of our primary objectives is to instill in students a genuine love for learning. When students are actively enjoying learning there is a profound impact not only on their academic performance but also on their personal growth and success in life. When students are genuinely motivated to learn, they become more inclined to pursue knowledge and engage in tasks outside of school, transforming into self-directed, lifelong learners.

One of the main ideas in Connie Hamilton and Starr Sackstein's Hacking Homework is at home learning should be something that students want to do because it is enjoyable and they learn from it. It is our job as educators to get students motivated to learn outside of school and to assign meaningful work for students to do at home.

1. Ask Questions 

Instead of having students simply practice what they already did in class and foster a disdain for learning, get students excited about what they will be learning next. Throughout the week drop hints to what the next thing you will be focusing on will be. At the end of class, instead of giving students a practice worksheet for homework, have questions for them to research. Allow them to use any resources they want in answering the questions. The next day have students get into groups and discuss what they discovered. With this activity you will have students naturally curious and excited to learn. 

2. Challenge Your Students to Form Connections

Another way to get students excited to learn is comprise your lessons with students' interests. How can you connect what you are teaching to something that each individual in your class is interested in? Here's the thing: you don't have to! Allow your students to do that. Challenge your students to find real world connections to what they are learning in class. Instead of forcing students to regurgitate the same stuff they did in class, let them do some exploring. Students will be more motivated to learn if their at home assignments are all about things that they enjoy. 

3. Be creative, nothing else

Don't be so rigid in what students have to do for homework. Keep repetition and practice in the classroom and allow creativity to flourish outside of it. Assign creative tasks that enable students to express themselves artistically. This may include writing short stories, composing poems, creating artwork, or producing videos, but it can be so much more. Simply tell your students create something and evaluate their work not on whether it was done correctly (because you can't say something they created is wrong) but on how much work students put into it. Imagine one of your students designs a brand new play for their favorite football team. That is creative! Another one of your students brings in a lego recreation of the Eiffel Tower. Creative expression! When you give students the freedom to accomplish a goal of their own, you can understand how to get your students to flourish and inspire a love of learning.  

4. Independent Listening

To promote a love of reading, give students a choice of what they want to read and when they can do it. Allow your students to read independently in class. When students are allowed to choose any book they want from your class or school library, they will read. Getting students to read for an assignment at home is another story. Some students don't have the time to drop what they are doing and read a chapter of The Great Gatsby. Some students aren't strong readers, so they simply won't read on their own. Provide students with an audio version of the book if they want it. Don't force students to read out loud in class because they will just learn to dislike you and reading. If students are given the freedom to choose how they read a book on their own they will be more motivated to read it and learn from it. 

5. Ask Students How Their Day Went

Encourage students to maintain a journal where they can reflect on their daily experiences, thoughts, and emotions. You can provide prompts or themes for reflection, allowing students to delve deeper into their thoughts and connect them to the broader world, but that is optional. Instead of assigning homework, ask your students how their day or week went. They can journal their responses and turn them into you. The best way to take pressure off of students is to not grade this activity. Instead, make it known to students you just want to know how they are feeling, if they are confused on anything, and if they have any questions. Incorporate the feedback and questions you get into your next lesson. This will show students you care about them and will motivate them to stay engaged and enjoy learning. 

These are just a few ideas to get students excited about learning. By embracing alternative assignments that promote creativity, critical thinking, and exploration, teachers can create opportunities for students to engage in meaningful learning experiences outside of school and turn students into life-long learners. 

Main post image by Keira Burton via Pexels

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