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There is little that is more disheartening than carefully preparing a lesson plan that falls flat in the classroom. No matter the subject, time of year, ages of the students, or school size and location, motivating students to engage in classroom learning is a challenge all teachers face.

Most teachers have a few tricks up their sleeves to liven up even the dullest of lessons but it’s never a bad idea to add more to the stockpile. Here are some overall tips for teachers of all experience levels and classrooms to help inspire motivation in your students.

Help them understand their individual motivations

Self-reflection exercises are great for students of all ages and using this method to help them understand what motivates them to learn and succeed is a great way to give them some control over their own goals. It also allows the teacher to better understand the motivations of the student. Win-win!

Give students a choice

For students, the school experience can be full of structure, guidance, correction, and consequences. All are necessary but not always conducive to motivating self-initiated learning. Letting students choose the type of assignments they do or letting them choose their topic of interest for a project or paper gives them greater control over their education. There is no better ingredient for engagement than control.

Be extra clear

When dealing with a classroom as a whole year after year, it’s easy to start making assumptions about what our students do or do not know and understand. Providing clear expectations and guidelines can lessen anxiety and confusion, giving students more time and energy to apply themselves to learning. While these things are typically laid out at the beginning of the year, don’t be afraid to revisit them frequently.

Offer a variety of experiences

Changing up lesson and activity styles keeps students engaged throughout the semester or year and most teachers subscribe to this method of teaching. One way to emphasize the benefits of versatility in the classroom is to let students have a variety of experiences within one lesson or activity. It can be hard to motivate an entire class at once but giving students a few options at the beginning of an assignment not only plays into giving them limited control in the classroom but will also help those students with varied learning styles.