Why we learn
In this section I am not going to cover ideas about rewards etc that are a part of every classroom. Rather than this external motivation I want to cover internal motivation, appealing to a student’s inner desire to learn and work. Please feel free to add in the comments section any other ideas you have used.
Approach one “growing up”
There is a strong desire in most younger students to mature and be recognised for this. This approach is not about telling a student to “grow up” but using older role models to provide motivation. In turn using your students as a role model for younger students reinforces the idea effectively.
Class conversations about how “year 5” should work and act are tools you can use. Take notes on these conversations and post the ideas around the room for later reference if a student is not learning or acting appropriately. Photographs of these same ideas in action are powerful tools for the more visual students in your class.
Approach two “work time”
Comparing what students do at school as similar to their parents going to work appeals as well to the idea of growing up. Establishing the idea that their role at school is like their parents, having to go to work. They might not like it but you need to do your best.
Approach three “becoming an expert”
Finding a student’s interest and passions should be something every teacher does in the first week or two. This allows you to frame ideas in the interest of the student and allow them to become an expert in a certain field. Without learning every detail of say motorbikes, including the maths on how to run one, the literacy of finding the best bike magazines, the science of how a bike works and the history of bikes how can you be an expert?
Approach four “the science”
For the more scientifically minded students discuss the idea of learning as a process you must go through to “evolve”. The ability to learn is the single greatest skill that has raised humans to the heights of reaching the moon and Mars (in the future). Maybe leave out the bit about wars and what humans have done to each other! Hopefully we are learning that is not the way to go.
External motivation v internal motivation
Without doubt the most immediately successful tool for having students learn in your class will be external motivation of rewards, behaviour charts and critically, engaging lessons. However to truly make a difference in a student’s life an internal drive must be found to learn independently. These ideas like all philosophy are reinforced parallel to your regular lesson throughout the year.