The Principal's Principles

A Middle School Principal, striving to make the world a better place, one day at a time.

3 Steps to Student Motivation

As the school year begins, students are returning to school filled with ambitions and goals for the academic year. Often parents and teachers ask me about ideas to not only motivate their son/daughter or student, but to keep them focused on having a good year and meeting their goals throughout the school year. Based on my professional experience, the best tips I can offer are:

* Break things down
* Often, students become overwhelmed because they become focused on a much bigger picture than what is immediately in front of them. A great school year is the product of 40 good weeks. Instead of having a goal of staying on top of homework all year, it’s often better to simply focus on having a good week with homework, one week at a time.

* Be direct
* Students sometimes struggle because they are unclear what we expect from them. Make clarity your goal as you talk with your son and daughter about what you want from them as a parent. Adolescents do want to succeed and make adults happy, but they struggle with abstract statements such as “I want you to do well in school this year.” Add some specific information so your son or daughter is clear on what “doing well in school means” to you.

* Give feedback
* Students learn most from specific feedback. When you see your son or daughter doing what you have made clear you want them to do, be sure to praise them, specifically. When they are not meeting their goals, be direct where you see them not meeting expectations. Feedback is the most effective, and often the most underused strategy I have found in working with students.

I hope you found these tips helpful (and reassuring). Working together, we can help every student succeed.

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