ELEMENTARY EDITION- JANUARY 31, 2016
MOTIVATION AND STUDENT BEHAVIOR
In general, teaching involves being able to apply strategies focused on content to be taught and knowledge and skills to be acquired – with some degree of attention given to the process of engaging students. All this works fine in schools where most students come each day ready and able to deal with what the teacher is ready and able to teach. Indeed, teachers are fortunate when they have a classroom where the majority of students show up and are receptive to the planned lessons. In schools that are the greatest focus of public criticism, this certainly is not the case. What most of us realize, at least at some level, is that teachers in such settings are confronted with an entirely different teaching situation. Among the various supports they absolutely must have are ways to re-engage students who have become disengaged and often resistant to broad-band (non-personalized)teaching approaches. To the dismay of most teachers, however, strategies for re-engaging students in learning rarely are a prominent part of pre or in-service preparation and seldom are the focus of interventions pursued by professionals whose role is to support teachers and students(National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine,2004).
It is commonplace to find that when students are not engaged in the lessons at hand they tend to pursue other activity. As teachers and other staff try to cope with those who are disruptive, the main concern usually is “classroom management.” At one time, a heavy dose of punishment was the dominant approach. Currently, the stress is on more positive practices designed to provide “behavior support” in and out of the classroom.
Teachers have a lot to do with their students' motivational level. A student may arrive in class with a certain degree of motivation. But the teacher's behavior and teaching style, the structure of the course, the nature of the assignments and informal interactions with students all have a large effect on student motivation. How do you motivate students so they are not disengaged and more apt to "act out"?