Set a big goal for the class
Reluctant, disrespectful, recalcitrant, complacent, demotivated, disaffected or disillusioned: any or all of these adjectives may apply to the students you teach from September.
So how can you even begin to turn this round, and get your pupils motivated to learn and succeed?
It sounds impossible. I remember one moment, before I’d met my Year 10 class, where an English teacher sat me down to circle the troublemakers on my register. Out of 30, she went down the list, circling over 15 of them in red. Gulp. The first term was a nightmare of disruption. Each lesson felt like confronting a pack of howling wolves baying for blood.
What won them round was trust. Turning up full of energy and positivity each lesson, praising effort, getting rapport with the ringleaders and getting them each to experience success: all of these things earned their trust and turned it round.
But if I had to recommend one thing that got them to want to achieve, it would be this. Set a big goal for the class. Display it at the start of every lesson as they walk in to remind of what they’re working towards. For example, here’s the one I used with that Year 10 class:
The benefits are brilliant. It guides everything else you plan: will it help them achieve their goal? It motivates them that you believe that they should all aim high. And it brings real urgency to all your lessons, as no one wants to let the class down.
This next slide I designed to tap into their chronic cult of instant gratification with an instant snapshot of the big picture, and combat it with the reason why education matters to them in the long-term: average annual salaries! After this, they were all asking me, “what’s an MBA? How do I get one, sir?” “You start by putting the effort in, here and now…”
How can you design class big goals?
Big goals need to be ambitious but achievable, and most of all, meaningful to your students. That’s why I tapped into the 2012 Olympics with the ‘Best of Britain’ idea. You can follow these four steps to creating your own – diagnose, understand, pinpoint, then design:
Here are a few more concrete examples: