Identifying students exhibiting those indicators, and target them before their motivational levels decline even more. There are probably thousands of programs like this across the country, but the examples described below are intended to give the reader a general idea of the strategies being implemented by schools in a variety of states and contexts. Targeting dropouts, a statewide dropout prevention program targeted “at risk” male students in their freshman year of high school. To be considered at risk, students must have displayed one of four factors: failing two core classes in 8th grade, being suspended, having a poor attendance record, or being overage. Once identified, the students were assigned a “personal motivator,” who met with them bimonthly to provide encouragement and ensure they were on track to earn their credits. Students were also able to participate in special extracurricular activities. Each participating school had a state-funded coordinator and a “graduation action team,” consisting of community leaders, teachers, parents, clergy, and others, who would meet to monitor students’ progress. After the first year of the program, grade promotion and attendance rates increased, at some schools quite dramatically, and suspension rates decreased. Teachers have initiated similar interventions to try to prevent “academic withdrawal.” School administrators have increased home visits for students with poor attendance, reduced suspension rates through alternative discipline, partnered with social support agencies in the community to provide students with services, and created extra academic and recreation programs for after-school hours. The teachers have also retrained counselors to preemptively identify students who need support or motivation, rather than waiting for the students to ask for help; the teachers pay special attention to students who display indicators such as academic difficulty or low attendance. In the past few years, teachers have seen a reduction in its dropout rate, which is now below the state average.
Schools in several states have created PLCs, a model developed by the Communities in Schools network. These centers consist of fewer than 100 students in four to five “classrooms,” in which students use computers to progress through an online curriculum comparable in length and content to traditional textbook-based classes. Students must take tests at the end of each lesson, module, and class, and must score at least an 80% in order to progress. Teachers provide assistance and direction and facilitate the 10-40% of coursework that is not done online, including presentations and one-on-one meetings. PLCs are not considered credit-recovery programs but rather a comprehensive alternative to a traditional school, combining the ideas of a small classroom and technology use. PLCs target the most challenged students I order to increase motivation as in relationship between teachers and students.
Teachers in the increase the relationship with the students so that they can easily school district decide the best way to identify students most at risk of dropping out was by preventing low attendance, which they hoped would decrease the likelihood that students would lose motivation and drop out. They instituted a “rapid response strategy” to increase attendance, engagement, and graduation rates, by so doing motivation would be increased to students. The strategy first calls for identifying why a particular student is missing school and then responding with an appropriate intervention. This system of differentiated solutions includes strategies such as meetings with a school support team and parents, special activities to increase students’ interest and feeling of belonging, home visits, a personal mentor, a daily wake-up call, the involvement of service providers if necessary, and in some cases a court truancy hearing and motivation. Teachers as Motivators While almost all teachers believe they can affect student learning, they express much more frustration about their ability to affect student motivation.
Research suggests several strategies teachers can use to more closely align their instruction with motivational theory, which implies that if teachers can find ways to spur feelings of competence, autonomy, interest, and relatedness, students should respond with increased motivation. Similarly, if teachers can encourage a mastery-based mindset and discourage a performance-based mindset. Students are more likely to be motivated and confident. Teachers can affect these motivational factors through the ways in which they interact with students, the strategies they use to address low motivation, their use of classroom assessments, and the strength and type of relationships they foster with their behavior to internal, controllable causes.
Teachers can increase student motivation by encouraging students to do their best; this is especially true for low-income students, who report feeling a much lower rate of academic pressure than their affluent peers. Teachers can also increase motivation by setting high expectations for homework completion, attendance, behavior, and academic performance; facilitating student choice in the classroom wherever possible to facilitate autonomy requiring high-order thinking, innovative strategy use, and collaborative, participatory-based lessons and providing opportunities for students to address conceptual misunderstandings or difficulties before they lose interest. Teachers practice their profession, including the strategies they use, their interactions with students, and their teaching styles; and how teachers can catalyze motivational support for their students from other sources, such as parents. Real-world examples of exceptional teacher outreach strategies are offered at the end of this section. Teacher’s own perceptions of and ideas about motivation affected their ability to motivate students. The evidence shows that that the teachers who were most effective at diagnosing and improving student motivation were those who focused on internal characteristics. These teachers “attribute effectively influencing student motivation to focusing on their interpersonal relatedness with students, and on links between education and things that student’s value, both now and into their future. In other words, these teachers encourage relatedness and interest.
Teachers whose instructional styles encouraged autonomy were also more effective motivators, while those who reported a more controlling style were less effective motivators. Not surprisingly, teachers who were better at recognizing low motivation were also better at increasing it. School teachers can participate in a professional development program designed to help them increase their emphasis on effort, mastery, and understanding, encourage more student autonomy and create a psychologically safer environment.
Teachers should embrace the belief and that effort would bring success, and encouraged students to take on risks and challenges ultimately had students who were more engaged, performed better, had higher self-confidence about their abilities, and were less concerned about their performance. Perhaps the most important finding of this study is that professional development, when done effectively, can have a lasting impact on teachers’ classroom style in regards to fostering student motivation. The attitudes teachers communicate to their students can have an effect on students’ motivation affected that student’s motivation. Students described caring teachers as “demonstrating democratic interaction styles, developing expectations for student behavior in light of individual differences, modeling a ’caring’ attitude toward their own work, and providing constructive feedback, similarly, teacher expectations for students’ educational attainment can strongly impact student motivation.
Teachers as outreach facilitators while teachers’ primary role is in the classroom, teachers also play a secondary role as communication facilitators. The evidence shows time and time again that parental involvement is linked to higher academic motivation for students. However, some parents may feel intimidated about reaching out to school administrators, may feel they have no role in their child’s education, or may have constraints on their time that prevent them from becoming involved. Therefore, teachers can play an important role in reaching out to parents and encouraging their involvement in students’ education. There are different means of facilitating this communication and involvement, and the context of the school and community may dictate which are most appropriate. Teachers can also improve student motivation by helping to educate parents about strategies to use at home that will improve academic achievement and engagement.
Guardians may act as a key to improving student motivation and achievement. If teachers can find ways to involve parents in their children’s education, it will likely have a positive effect on motivation. And while teachers can take many steps inside the classroom to help engage their students, at the end of the day, students return home to their families. Instructing parents on how they can continue that work at home will benefit students, parents, and teachers alike.
Reorganizing is the idea which was proposed over the past decades about the ideal way to organize a school. Each aspect of a school including school and classroom size, schedules, and the division of students into grades or other groups has been scrutinized in the hopes of raising achievement levels. Middle schools and high schools especially have been the subjects of experiments in manipulating school design, as research has shown that these are the years when students tend to lose motivation. The idea behind the small schools movement was that many middle and high schools had become large, impersonal places where it was too easy for students to have poor attendance, disengage from academics, and drop out of school without anyone noticing. The small schools movement has been particularly popular in large urban schools where these problems are most pronounced. In order to engage and motivate students, it was thought that a small, personal atmosphere would be more effective.
If teachers and students know each other and communicate frequently, feelings of relatedness and social support are increased, expectations are clearer, and help is more readily available, increasing feelings of control. Teachers are more active from protecting students to losing interest or competence and address the problem before it worsens. For these reasons, it is thought that small schools increase student motivation. Evidence supports this hypothesis; several studies have shown that when other factors are equal, students in smaller schools achieve at higher rates, are less likely to drop out or commit violent acts, feel more positive about school, and are more likely to engage in school activities. It is also said that these benefits may have an even greater effect on disadvantaged students, that small schools have greater achievement equity between minority groups, and that low-income and minority students have much higher rates of academic engagement in smaller schools than do their peers in larger schools.