How do we get them going?

13th January 2006 at 00:00
If a child knows their teacher is always ready to listen to them - whatever the issue, problem or question - they'll usually do anything for them. If a lesson is thoughtfully prepared and delivered, and the teacher's feedback spurs them on to the next step, then they'll constantly make progress. This is, in itself, motivating.

If all of this can be achieved with a cheerful smile and a sense of humour, then the teacher cannot fail. It's not rocket science, but I know from many years' experience that it works. scapegoat56 My first chemistry lesson with a particularly unmotivated group of middle-of-the-road Year 10s at the start of last term was a disaster. So I split the second lesson into 10-minute chunks of activities and gave rewards (I confess they were of the sweet variety) for good work and behaviour. They are great now (obviously not all the time), and I don't use sweets as rewards any more. They can write on the board, take the register, sit with their friends, etc, as motivation. They seem to be such a well-gelled group they motivate each other. Hellvixen I try to motivate the boys I teach by finding the core of the lesson that will interest them personally. I teach English, so if I'm teaching a poem, I'll try to identify what it is about the poem that they will think is relevant to them, such as a theme of "being an outsider" or "falling in love for the first time". If it's analysing news articles, I try to find one that will shock them or make them angry. The personal, emotional response I get from them is a great lead-in for the lesson and helps them to forget that they thought the work would be boring. hillbilly The more enthusiastic you are and the more you vary the activities (but keep within your own routine so it feels safe) the better the response.

Doing something new and slightly random seems to pick up a few. Talking less and letting them get on with things seems to help too. Do many teenagers want to listen to an adult?

If you get them involved in the starter activity, they are far more likely to stay with you for the whole lesson, so I try to get as many on board as I can at the beginning.

I'm not sure whether it's still novelty value at my school or not, but ICT andor using a data projector seems to get a good response, especially from the boys. With this in mind, I have transferred a lot of my standard lesson starters to an ICT-based activity. I now need to work on getting the technology installed in the classroom so I can use it freely without health and safety concerns and work on keeping their attention during the transition to the main phase of the lesson.

Oh, and I suppose the other thing is relaxing slightly, showing you have a sense of humour, and showing you like them, even if they are a pest. For some groups, unfortunately, this means the difference between "providing learning experiences" and traditional "teaching". But I suppose as long as they are learning, I am teaching.

lilachardy Now I've really got to grips with my interactive whiteboard, I can easily have written work, video clips, sound files and drag and drop activities in one lesson. This covers all learning styles and it's much easier to engage everyone in my lower ability and less settled classes.

The lower ability boys especially love the interactive activities; I've even had them begging to be allowed to stay and finish something off on a Friday afternoon, last lesson! leviosa In my Year 10 and 11 poetry class I used a bag of objects, pulling out an item and asking the students to "name the poem". I then took this to another level and asked more in-depth questions about content, emotions, techniques. The students were able to articulate answers that shocked even themselves!

Another strategy is rewards. I know it's obvious, but even the disaffected key stage 4 student wants to be recognised. We had a half-termly raffle, trips out, weekends away, an enhancement curriculum, praise (verbally, by phoneletter home)I and much more! Queen Mab In my relatively limited experience (a term out of NQT-dom), the key is for students to see you have a passion for your subject, and that the skills and knowledge you are helping them develop are relevant for a 21st century student. Young people often cannot see the long-term picture, and education and school can seem irrelevant and meaningless. Some have so many problems at home that school is the last thing on their mind. They see education negatively. Allow them to take ownership over the learning; don't take the didactic approach, but let them discover things for themselves. I teach drama and use it as a teaching and learning medium to deliver other areas of the curriculum. Often I see students who are rarely motivated and uninspired come alive. It's not down to me, just the way the learning is delivered. tom1980 If you involve the children in your planning they gain control and motivation to learn. They are much more willing if they feel that what they are learning has meaning for them. Numeracy is an obvious place to start.

Ask them what they want to learn about measuring, or whatever your topic is, and listen! Teach them what they want to learn as well as what they have to. Lora I have adopted the "no hands up" approach, and now ask pupils to turn to their talking partners regularly during lessons. While they are talking - to repeat and consolidate something; to discuss ways to solve a problem, and so on - I walk around the room listening to what they say. This is a perfect opportunity for my teaching assistant to get involved too. Without interrupting what I am saying she can help individual children. Each "talk time" lasts between 10 seconds and two minutes, and has helped stop children from switching off. The children seem to like sharing their ideas, it helps build interpersonal skills, it keeps the lesson more interactive, and has helped the pace and buzz of my teaching. isitfriday?

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