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Tips, Tricks & Tools to

Motivate Unmotivated Students

Lively, unexpected, powerful methods
to motivate unmotivated students

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student with bad attitudeJust because universities don't offer teachers and other youth professionals practical, ready-to-use, powerful motivation-makers to transform unmotivated students, doesn't mean that great motivational methods don't exist. These methods do exist, and you're about to see some of the best.

Here is a fascinating fact you may never have considered. Have you ever noticed that most schools have no formal plan to train kids to be students?

Most schools have elaborate plans for teaching academics but no comparable plan to teach students "School Skills" so kids can take full advantage of the great academics being offered.

What are School Skills? It's everything that teachers need students to do, things like motivation, attendance, class discussion skills, completing work, talking one at a time, arriving on time, and much more.

Resources like our Becoming a Prepared, Motivated Student: Behavior Change Handout book actually teach children and teens all the nuts and bolts of being a student, and include tools to motivate them.

school skills book"But, I don't teach School Skills," you may think to yourself. Well, that's a problem. You are expecting students to perform behaviors that they may never have been taught.

So, stop expecting students to perform School Skills that you haven't taught. Start teaching students the behavior, attitude and motivation they need to succeed in school, then watch what a huge difference it makes. You will finally be working with trained, motivated students instead of untrained, unmotivated ones.

Further below are a some example motivation strategies to get you started, but remember that you need to cover much more than just motivation. You will also need to cover attendance, punctuality, respect for teachers, how to raise your hand, how to do homework, how to behave on the bus, how to behave in class discussions, how to follow the rules, how to manage school books and supplies, and so on.


Marvelous Methods to

Motivate Unmotivated Students


Jobs That Are No More

Help students start and maintain a list of jobs that no longer exist. To start them off, include typewriter repairmen, TWA pilots, Montgomery Ward cashiers, and 8 track tape makers. Update the list every time a company folds or a job category becomes obsolete. Discuss with students that most of the jobs they will hold in the future, haven't even been invented yet; ask students if they will have the education and skills to be ready.

student activity computerDiploma Needed

Most jobs require a diploma, a trend that is becoming more widespread. Soon, nearly all jobs will require a diploma just to apply.

Help students to see the value of education and skills by discussing how to fill in an electronic job application, such as the example pictured here. Help them discover that they need great computer skills and a good education just to be able to even apply for jobs, never mind get one.



Who Wants Double the Dollars?

Teach students: each degree "doubles the dollars" they earn. It's true. double the dollars graduation poster 48Every degree from high school upward, roughly doubles the likely salary. We even have a whole series of posters dedicated to that. Be sure to begin by asking who wants double the dollars because every student will.




Who Wants to Earn More Money?

Be sure your students know that over their lifetime, dropouts earn $329,000 less than graduates. They should also know that dropouts earn less than everybody else. That's right. No one earns less than a dropout. Ask your students who would knowingly volunteer to earn less than everybody else.


But I'll Just Work in Fast Food

For students who say that they can just work in fast food without a diploma or education skills, tell them they may be in for a shock. Some chains in some states now require a diploma to apply, a quickly growing trend. What's the alternative? Many of the fast food chains will hire you if you're in school. Fast food chains are just part of the growing trend to demand a diploma to even apply for the job, never mind get hired.

school posterI Want to Work Two Jobs to Survive

Ask students how many jobs they will want to work at once, because dropouts need at least 2 jobs to afford the most humble housing. Here is an example of an extremely potent intervention that conveys that grim fact about housing in a way that's hard for students to deny or minimize.
Click for more interventions like this one.

Engineers: For Train or Software?

Years ago, people needed a good back and good feet to get employed. Common jobs were train engineer and factory worker. Today, common jobs are  software engineer and high tech worker.   In the future, to get a job, people need an educated brain and good fingertips.  Ask your students which century they'll be prepared for? A century that exists only in memory or the century they live in. Help students discover they need to be prepared to live on "High Tech Planet."


I'd Like My Salary to Go Down, Please

Be sure your students know this: Salaries for dropouts will be decreasing 1/2% annually, about 5% per decade. What could be worse than that? During recessionary times, dropouts are the last hired and first fired. Had enough? I don't think so. Those dropouts fortunate enough to be employed during lean times will see their pay decreasing faster than the grim numbers shown in the sentence above. If a diploma is the ticket of admission to our new millennium, where does that leave dropouts? That's a terrific question to pose to students. 


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