Thursday, November 29, 2012

6 Ways To Demotivate Your Students

is the title of one of my favorite articles from my studies. No teacher demotivates their students on purpose. That's why this article focuses on the non-trivial ways to demotivate your students, those that happen by accident, and how you can prevent from falling into these traps!
By the way, preventing demotivating your students is not equal to motivating your students.

  1. Taking Away Control ...

     ... is great - if you want to kill your students motivation. Imagine a situation like this: You have a student and you really want the student to get it so you will just stand right next to the student and correct every mistake every time. You might just want the best, but you've taken away all the control and what you need to do is to back off.
    Another moment where this happens way faster than one might think is when over-explaining, giving too detailed instructions. 

    One easy thing to implement is the three-try-rule. If we do something new in class, let your students always do it at least three times before you correct them. Giving them multiple chances, they can correct themselves, which in addition to avoiding demotivation also results in a way better learning effect, because they solved the problem themselves.
    To avoid the second problem: know your goals!
  2. Untold Goals ...

     ... will suffocate motivation. You might perfectly well know your goals and they might even seem obvious to you. But not knowing why you learn something, without focus and without application, for example check out Something Is Wrong, where technique isn't a helper anymore, will leave them unsatisfied and with less motivation.
  3. "They aren't ready ...

     ... for that amount of technique yet. It's all about the fun!" Yes, let's go for fun only, because it feels so great to be treated like an idiot! Unfortunately this attitude can often be seen when teaching "low" levels. People are often afraid to "over-challenge" their students and yes, that's of course demotivating, but under-challenging them is equally if not more dangerous. To you it will feel like they learn something, and to them it will feel like you just turned their juicy steak into some liquid baby food.

    To give you one example - when teaching technique, which is usually a challenging factor in class, adapt it to exactly what is needed. This way you can have a challenge your beginners with technique. They are never too unexperienced to have the necessary technique. Check out Putting Technique Where It Belongs. This does not only relate to beginners.
  4. Lack Of Trust ...

     ... or simply doubting their own expertise will kill motivation! It doesn't matter if the insinuation of lack of expertise is presented as verbal feedback, a gesture, your behaviour or how you manage certain situations. This could be even positive feedback as "Hey, now finally even you have managed it". Finally and even are what demonstrate your lack of trust. 

    What I like doing with something new is that I demonstrate only visually and let the students copy it. They can try it out first. I confide in them that they can do it. Once they have tried it, you can give them the help they need to put it completely together - it might not even need your help.
  5. Being Part Of It...

    ... is for motivated people, but who would want those in ones class? There is a fundamental need to be socially involved and accepted, to feel trust and care. If this need is infringed upon, students will feel rejected or neglected which also results in demotivation.
    A classic situation where this is bound to happen is when someone has a question. By answering too short or demonstrate in another way that you don't care, will trigger the feeling of neglect.
    E.g. during the warm up do an improvised big apple. This is a small contribution towards the "belonging together" part.
  6. "I Don't Give A Shit"...

    ... about my own material. This attitude will react in "We Don't Give A Shit About Your Material", which are just other words for demotivation. You come into class and you feel like today's class is only one of those classes you "have to teach", but you couldn't care less about it. You are too good for the material and why should you hide your feelings towards the students? 
    It's infectious! Not showing your students you care about your material leaves them wondering, why they should care and if you don't see anything interesting in it, how could they?  
    There is two things you can do about it: First - change your view from the one who has done it for years to the view of student, who doesn't know the material yet, for example Be A Beginner. All of a sudden the material becomes new and interesting again. 
    Second - Only teach material you find interesting. No "I must teach this in lindy hop" classes anymore for me. If I can't find the interesting part to it, you're not going to learn it in my classes. This way I'm sure I don't fall into this trap.

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