In the Classroom

Easy Tips for Teachers to Motivate Students in K-12

These days, those in education are constantly searching for tips for teachers to motivate students. COVID hit our classrooms so flipping hard and now we are trying to forge ahead while moving backward and it’s really, really difficult.

In terms of tips for teachers to motivate students, there are some basic pieces to the puzzle that any teacher can start with, no matter what grade they teach. These are the snowflakes that will start the avalanche.

These tips for teachers to motivate students are fairly universal if you teach pre-k or pre-med. Finding ways to incorporate them into the classroom is where you will start.

This will again help you love what you do, and be excited about it!

Think of teaching as performance art. You are putting on a show every day and the students are your audience. They feed off your energy and enthusiasm and if you don’t have it, they won’t either.

Your students will sense if you are bored or uninterested and then that is all they will know for the rest of their lives when in a classroom setting. They in turn will do the same thing to their own students, and so on ad infinitum.

These tips for teachers to motivate students will help that energy thrive and will get everyone back to where they should be in the classroom.

Top tips for teachers to motivate students

Easy Tips for Teachers to Motivate Students in K-12

1. Be a real person.

If you are a real person, your students will see that and be motivated to do well for you because

a) they will want you to like them and

b) they will care about doing well in class because it affects how they feel about themselves

This is all about creating a community where everyone feels at home, and that includes you. If you feel out of place in your own classroom, adjustments need to be made. Your room should be as zen for you as it is for your students. It is a process and honestly, in terms of tips for teachers to motivate students, this is number one for a reason.

2. Be relaxed.

Allowing your students to see you being calm and not stressed out will make them feel more confident about doing well in class. Let them do things that they enjoy that don’t necessarily relate to the subject matter, but show them how it relates to a real-life context.

Will you be stressed at times no matter what? Sure. But remember, our students look to adults for guidance in how to react to certain situations. It is okay for them to see the humanistic side to what is happening, but if you’re constantly stressed or lashing out in specific ways, they will take note and that energy will filter into them and back out to you.

Be who you want your students to be, and don’t be afraid to admit when it’s hard to do that.

Remember, if it’s hard for you as an adult, imagine what it is like for them as a child. This isn’t just on the list of tips for teachers to motivate students, but to motivate yourself as well.

3. Make sure your classroom is organized.

Keep the learning environment organized, and your students will be more likely to feel motivated about working harder.

If they see disorganization in the room, it’s going to take a toll on them from day one. They will follow suit and become disorganized themselves because if you don’t care enough about what you do to make the room look how you want, why should they care about their work?

You might be thinking, “Well, it doesn’t work that way”…but in actuality, from the eyes of a child, how would it work any differently?

Remember that these are little people in your eyes who may not know what to do with themselves all day if left alone, so try and give them tasks to do while you’re helping other students or working with groups. Keep things moving for them.

4. Try and remember to be their age.

Think about why you love school or what motivates you outside of the specifics of it. What is one common factor that sticks out to you?

Chances are if this was a positive experience for you, there’s a reason behind it, and chances are even higher than this will be a positive and motivating experience for your students in the same way.

Keep an open dialogue about what motivates them and what they’re interested in learning about, and you’ll find that when you engage with them on these topics, their motivation skyrockets because they get to relive their favorite parts of childhood while still working hard towards their futures.

5. Be the example.

I know that this has been a big point in all of the tips for teachers to motivate students, but it’s worth repeating because it is so important.

If you care about what you do and how hard you work, your students will see that and want to follow suit. They are children who learn from their surroundings so provide them with a positive and motivating one, and they will reciprocate it.

Be the person you want them to be! You can do it.

6. Classroom management is key.

If you can’t get your students to listen to you, all of the rest doesn’t matter.

Focus on establishing rules and consequences for breaking those rules early on. Then follow through.

This will give them boundaries that they need in order to do their best, and it shows them that you care about their behavior as well as their learning.

Creating a classroom management routine is probably one of the most important tips for teachers to motivate students. When you don’t have to worry about the process or the behaviors, it opens the door to be able to do so much more in the classroom.

7. Have an open mind.

Sometimes students like to bring up subjects that might not necessarily pertain directly to what is happening in class but remember that their brains are developing which means they’re learning new things at an accelerated rate.

As long as the conversation is respectful and open-ended, encourage these discussions because it’s taking them down paths you didn’t even know existed before.

You might find that they’re picking up on something that you teach in class later on or they bring up a deeper discussion about something important to them.

Always keep an open mind and a welcoming personality so that your students will be motivated to reach heights you didn’t even know were possible.

8. Read out loud to them.

This is probably one of the most gratifying tips for teachers to motivate students because it’s such a simple action but can have such a powerful impact, no matter what age group you teach.

Reading is such a great skill that can be taught and incorporated into all activities in the classroom, but many times we just expect everyone to know how already.

Take this opportunity to read out loud to your students and they will listen because you’re sharing something with them that you value so highly. This shows them another important aspect of school that they might not have known before, and it also motivates them to go back and read on their own because you shared this experience with them.

9. Make the learning environment comfortable.

The most effective and efficient ways of teaching your students will be useless if they’re uncomfortable in the classroom setting for whatever reason.

Make sure you have a comfortable chair to sit in, have materials at their desk so they don’t have to get up and disturb the classroom when they need a new pencil or a piece of paper.

This shows them that you care about their learning experience and want it to be effective so they will feel confident in turning to you with any questions when they don’t understand something.

Don’t forget to turn the lights up if it’s too dark and make sure you can get rid of any unnecessary distractions.

Every little bit helps!

10. Laugh with them.

As long as your students aren’t misbehaving, let loose sometimes and laugh with them.

At least once per semester, I would absolutely crack and end up laughing so hard I cried. It was always “the best” for my students when they finally did something that made me lose it (in such a good way).

Telling jokes about yourself or other funny stories is a great way to lighten up the mood and keep them engaged. This makes everyone feel more relaxed and it gives you an opportunity to talk about different situations with your students in a way that they can relate to.

If you show positivity, your students will feel much more at ease when they’re in your classroom. This is probably one of my favorite tips for teachers to motivate students because, as they say, laughter is the best medicine.

11. Show them that learning can be fun!

There is so many fun, creative ways to teach your students important lessons in a way that they’ll remember and want to come back for more.

For example, if you’re teaching the parts of speech, you can dress up as characters from a book and act them out.

Or, make stick puppets with your students for presentations! This is a great opportunity to incorporate group activities that they’ll love because it’s not something they have done before in a school setting.

Finally, be open to motivation in all forms of education and teach your students to be the same way.

While it may seem like a daunting task at times, remember that your students are learning, too! Be patient with them and trust in yourself when you’re not feeling quite motivated enough.

These are great tips for teachers to motivate students because they usually come straight from the heart and it’s much easier to attract students when you show them that learning can be fun!

Stop Driving the Teacher Struggle Bus

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After moving from a teacher-dominated classroom to a truly student-centered one, Jenn found herself helping colleagues who wanted to follow her lead.  In 2018 she decided to expand outside of her school walls and help those out there who were also trying to figure out this fantastic method of instruction to ignite intrinsic motivation in their students.  Read more about her journey with Student-Centered World at

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