I think it's crucial for teachers to be in an ongoing evaluative process. This does not mean simply evaluating student's progress, but the overall effectiveness of our classrooms.
Here is a list of some general questions that can help you determine whether or not your classroom continues to offer an environment which will motivate your students.
- Have I established a positive classroom climate?
- Do my students feel that they are part of the classroom community?
- Are my students given frequent, timely, positive and encouraging feedback?
- Have I ensured opportunities for students' success by giving assignments that are neither too easy nor too difficult?
- Have I helped my students find personal meaning and value in the material?
- Have I generated student interest and enjoyment of the subject matter? As students often put it, "How can teachers expect us to be interested in a topic, if they don't seem interested in it?"
- Have I been well organized and prepared? To put it in the students' words, "We can see that they have done their homework, which makes us feel more responsible to do ours."
- Are my students actively engaged in classroom learning, which may involve group discussion or other "hands-on" activities?
- Have I tried to use variety and make sure that the same instructional techniques are not used in every day? Monotony is avoided by using a variety of strategies such as lecture, class discussion, media, or discovery learning.
- Do my students perceive me as being approachable and friendly? Do I appear interested in the students and their learning?
The following ideas for motivating students were graciously contributed by Colleen. Visit her outstanding website at www.teachingheart.net.
Beat the Ice
If you often find that you students do not stay on task you may want to try Beat the Ice. This works great for timed multiplication and I am sure it would work for other subjects. Challenge each student to complete a predetermined amount of his assignments before the ice melts. As the students work, hold the ice in your hand (over a towel or bowl), and toss it back and forth from one hand to another. Congratulate all who finish with a cold handshake.
Classroom Wall of Fame
Positive reinforcement goes a long way! Show students that you appreciate their best effort with the Classroom Wall of Fame. When a student makes significant progress in a certain subject, photograph him or her holding their great work. Mount the photo along with a caption describing the achievement on the board entitled "Our Wall of Fame." At the end of every nine weeks take down the photos and read the captions to the class, as you hand out the photos to the students to take home to share with mom and dad.