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How to Motivate a Lazy Student

Learn how to motivate a lazy student from education consultant Grace Dearborn in this Howcast video.


Laziness is really an indicator of a student who is either disengaged or unmotivated or disconnected in some way. So how do we motivate or engage a student in the classroom so they don't present as lazy? There is a couple of different things that we can do and one of them is to increase the amount of movement in the classroom. Students often present as lazy, not wanting to do work or as bored when they are unenthusiastic about what is happening in the classroom and we bring that enthusiasm by having students move more in the classroom, by having students talk more to each other, by giving creative assignments and doing things that are a little bit more creative than just write a question or just summarize. Then we can help motivate these students who present as unmotivated.

For example, the next time that you want your students to talk about something, have them stand up, turn to a partner and talk about that or have them raise their right hand, find somebody in the classroom they haven't spoken to, general high-five, share an idea and then return to their seats. So that if we can't bring content that is inherently interesting to our students, at least we can bring instructional design that is, maybe, a little bit more engaging and motivating for our students. In addition to that, the more creative the things are that we are asking our students to do when they turn or talk or when we stop talking and they have to do something on paper, the more likely it is that students will come to that and do it, rather than sit there and say, "This is stupid, this is boring." Or present as lazy.

So for example, if you are teaching a tough piece of content where a lot of students are going to start to disengage, after talking about it or explaining it for a five or seven minutes, pause, put the kids in groups and ask them to create a song that represents that piece of context. Give them a tune to use like happy birthday or row, row, row your boat and ask them to change the lyrics to represent the new information. This is something that will be more inherently motivating to a student who presents as lazy than saying, "Now, after what I said, write a summary on your piece of paper." The more engaging our lessons, the more creative the things that we are asking them to do and the more we incorporate movement into our lessons, the more likely we are to connect with and motivate our least motivated students.

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