Lesson 7: Motivating Unmotivated Students

A common thought rolling around inside many teachers’ heads is, “Many of my students don’t appear to have any interest in learning. They just sit at their desks, heads down, lethargic. I’m sick and tired of trying to teach students who aren’t motivated and who couldn’t care less about being in school.”

It can be particularly galling to a caring teacher to observe how unmotivated students will “come alive” and display intense interest in things outside the classroom. The same kid who tries to sleep through class will spend hours attentively watching and listening to videos of his favorite bands. The girl who sits at her desk staring at her lap is likely paying avid attention to the texts she is surreptitiously sending to, and receiving from, her friends. And the boy who is frequently tardy and who never participates in class discussion may be fanatical about putting in the time and hard work that allows him to be a star on the soccer pitch. With most young people, the problem is not one of a general lack of motivation; the difficulty lies in getting them to become motivated as students.

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