Motivate Tired, Bored, and Timid Students
One of the surest ways to motivate tired, bored, and timid students is to relate a particular lesson as directly as possible to the students' own lives. For example, if you're teaching a mathematics lesson on percentages, make a connection between that topic and the frequent 50 percent off types of sales at the local mall. Ask a student who seems to be falling over with sleepiness if he's ever gone to a video-game store during one of these sales and seen a $55 video game marked down 50 percent. If he has he'll answer, “Yes!” enthusiastically, and he'll offer a bit of explanation. If he hasn't, ask if he's ever seen a percentage-discount sale at any store he's visited; he'll probably think of one. Then ask him to come to the board and write as he gives some details of the sale and as you explain how to calculate a percentage discount.
Or, during a social studies lesson when you're discussing the broad topic of the current homelessness problem in the United States, list a typical family's monthly expenses on the whiteboard and get real input from your shy and sleepy students. Ask them to make an intelligent estimate of their family's monthly expenses for food, rent, clothing, electricity, water, trash pickup, natural gas, gasoline, car repairs, and so forth. Then watch their hands shoot up when you ask how much everyone spends at the mall each month during shopping trips and how much everyone's personal cell-phone bills are. Pointedly ask your sluggish kids what might happen to a family if a mom were to break her leg skiing and be unable to work for six months or what might happen if a dad got divorced and saw his annual income decrease by 60 percent. Woozy kids may perk up when required to confront such questions.
You should approach every day as a new opportunity to grow and achieve your goals. Above all, try to have fun. Teaching should not be drudgery, but should be full of exciting opportunities for sharing and growth.
Also, make sure your class discussions regarding academic issues you're currently studying are as fascinating as you can make them. For instance, if you're studying slavery in social studies, define slavery as being forced to work, sometimes brutally, without pay. Then digress for a few minutes and ask a half-asleep student how he feels about working in school without being paid for it. Ask a shrinking-violet student how she feels about such an arrangement. Ask, “Should students be paid for good grades?” Refer to USA Todayreporter Greg Toppo's January 28, 2008 article “Good Grades Pay Off — Literally,” where he explains that kids in many school districts are being paid when they perform well on tests. See if your somnolent kids can sleep through thatlively discussion.
Motivating bored kids is all about helping them wake up. Nothing wakes up kids better than animated, interesting class discussions and well-prepared lessons that bear directly on their lives. Try to make your lessons as relevant and as fascinating as you can.