Law of Encouragement - Motivating Your Students

John Milton Gregory once said, "The inattentive mind neither hears nor sees."  If that's true, than I'm afraid much of our teaching is neither seen or heard because our students aren't motivated to learn.  They have inattentive minds, and often we are the ones to blame.  So how can we properly motivate those we teach?

This week we turn to Law #6, the Law of Encouragement.  As always, I'll begin with a short summary followed by a list of questions for reflection.  And I encourage you (pun intended) to make a comment (if you're still reading the book) as we approach the end of our online discussion over Teaching to Change Lives.   

  • Summary

The Law of Encouragement is this: Teaching tends to be most effective when the learner is properly motivatedHendricks highlights the word "properly" in this definition as he gives examples of improper motivation that can bring bad results such as making your kids memorize verses in order to get the lollipop.  What I've found is that proper motivation is almost always intrinsic or internal.  This kind of motivation goes for the heart of the learner instead of the "mouth" if you will.  So as teachers we must think creatively about finding ways to properly motivate our students.

Hendricks says that we must not only tell our students what we want them to learn, but show them and do it with them.  He makes reference to the fact that no one ever took a correspondence course in swimming.  If we want to learn to swim, we must get in the water and swim!  And likewise, as teachers, if we want to teach effectively, we must "get in the water" with our students if we expect to change their lives. 

[See my post - Swimming Lessons for Life]

Hendricks lists a few more helpful hints in terms of properly motivating our students:

  • We must give our students responsibility with accountability -- the greater the investment, the greater the interest.
  • We must make our teaching personal -- have the learner's name written all over it.
  • We must be creative and encourage their creativity -- don't kill creativity, but guide it

He ends with this final question:  Are you motivated?  Because if you're not motivated, how do you expect your students' to be motivated?  Motivated people are the ones who are excited about what they are teaching and their students will be as well.  Passion breeds passion.  So, get excited about teaching--especially if you have the privilege of teaching God's Word each week.

  • Questions for Reflection
  1. How do you know that your students are motivated or bored?
  2. How do you structure your lesson to bring proper motivation?
  3. Do you think proper motivation is necessary to learn?
  4. What can you do outside of class to motivate your students?
  5. How can you grow in your own motivation as a teacher?