Recently, I read an excellent article by Jennifer Gonzales called 5 Questions to Ask Yourself About Unmotivated Students. In it, she masterfully models the practice of reflective teaching and offers five vital considerations to make when working with unmotivated students.
As I read the article, I kept thinking that there might be two questions to consider about yourself as an educator before you can address the needs of unmotivated students in your classroom. They are:
- Do I believe ALL of my students are capable of learning and growing?
- Am I willing to do whatever it takes to help my students achieve beyond their capabilities?
Success for students essentially comes down to their teachers' answers to these two questions. If the answer is "no" to either of these, then the ability to motivate students will always be hampered.
In his book, Teaching with Poverty in Mind, Eric Jensen talks about how schools can empower students living in poverty to be successful. He believes the number one factor on student achievement in schools with high poverty is the faculty ---the impact of the teacher in the classroom. He offers the following observation on the power of possibility:
"The first prerequisite for change is your belief in it ---and your willingness to change yourself first. At school, embody the change you want to see in students. We can help kids rise about their predicted path of struggle if we see them as possibilities, not as problems."
As educators, we have to constantly remind ourselves that what we believe about our students is communicated not only with words but also through the lessons we plan, the set up of our classroom, and the time we give. May the message we convey be one that is filled with possibility.
President Barack Obama