How to Keep Your Students Motivated for the Next Grade
At the end of each school year, students tend to look forward to the grade that they will be in the following year and all that comes along with it. Eighth-grade students get excited about high school, ninth graders look forward to no longer being the youngest class in the school, and juniors look forward to starting their final year of high school. As a teacher, it’s important to keep your students engaged in your classroom throughout the entirety of the year, but as summer gets closer, it’s easy to lose your students’ attention and interest. One great way to keep them engaged until that very last day is to shift your mindset to the following year when they begin checking out of the current one. Get students excited about completing their current grade level and let them ask questions and discuss what the following school year will bring to keep them motivated all school year and all summer long.
Have a Conversation about the Following Year
Going to a new grade can be extremely exciting for some and quite intimidating for others. Allow open conversation about what the next grade level will bring. Discuss the fun benefits that it will bring, such as being able to drive to school or getting to choose from a variety of electives, and also discuss the challenges that may come with it, such as writing a large research paper or taking a specific standardized test. The more open you are with your students, the more they will think about the upcoming year and allow themselves to become excited about it. You can also allow students to ask questions, whether about academic issues or perks of being in the next grade, as well as voice their concerns. The more students know what to expect, the more prepared they will feel to move onto the next grade level with the motivation to do well.
Put Things into Perspective
As a teacher, it’s your job to help put things into perspective. When you are sensitive to the fact that students have multiple classes and various tests and assignments to prepare for, they tend to appreciate you more and work harder when you do give them work. Be real with your students about what you expect of them and explain to them what the rest of the world will expect from them once they move beyond your classroom. Teachers can sometimes get stuck in the mentality that their class is the most important, and that students’ success outside the classroom is based completely on their success in the classroom. You need to put things into perspective for yourself and your students if you want them to remain motivated through current and future school years. Explain to your students that the goal is not for them to simply receive good grades. Tell them that the ultimate goal of their education is to help them become a valuable member of society, and that your class is simply a stepping stone towards achieving that, as are all their other classes. This will help them see the importance of education, but it will also encourage them to not take themselves too seriously and to set positive goals.
Explain Your Motivation Behind Certain Things
Busy work can often be perceived as unnecessary by students and sometimes, you might give your students assignments that they deem as pointless. If you have a reason behind giving them this assignment or teaching a particular lesson, explain it to them! Middle school and high school students appreciate feeling respected, and when you take the time to explain your motivation rather than say, “Because I said so,” they’ll take the assignment more seriously and respect your more as an educator. Let’s say you’re teaching English and you want your students to learn how to outline a research paper. They may see it as a meaningless task that just keeps them busy, but you know that it will help them break a huge task down into steps to make it more manageable and more organized, preparing them for that big paper they have to write next year. Or maybe you teach social studies and have them draw bodies of water on a map of the U.S. They may deem this unnecessary, but you know that it’s going to apply to an upcoming lesson about how state lines were formed and how bodies of water play a huge role in the physical boundaries within our country. Explain your mindset and students will be more motivated to study now and prepare themselves for the next grade level.
Set Clear and Attainable Goals for Now and in the Future
Each grade level has its own standards and requirements for coursework. Seventh-grade students are expected to learn, understand, and apply certain skills, and tenth-grade students are expected to expand upon those skills and attain a more in-depth understanding and application of those skills. Setting clear and attainable goals for your students for the beginning of the year and the end of the year (likely based on the next grade level’s requirements and standards) will help your students a great deal. Not only will they stay motivated throughout the current year to master the current grade level’s standards, but they will be more driven to reach the end of year goals that will help set them up for success the following year. This can help students feel like they’re getting a head start on their next grade level.
Focus on Life Skills
It’s absolutely important for students to know the basic facts that each course requires in a particular grade, such as the structure of a cell or the reason World War II began. However, the life skills that you impart upon your students will give them confidence now, next year, and for years to come, and that is simply priceless. While your students are learning and studying the textbook facts, make sure they have plenty of opportunities to learn and utilize real-life skills as well, such as critical thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, and more. Allow students to explore their strengths and weaknesses and apply them and improve upon them. Encourage teamwork and open discussions, as well as tolerance and open-mindedness. Creating a positive atmosphere within the classroom will help your students to enjoy learning more and look forward to the next grade level they will enter.