3 Steps For Motivating Middle School Students


Use these 3 steps to help motivate your middle school students!

These days it has been a challenge to motivate middle school students. They are so used to the instant gratification of games on their phones, that they struggle when life doesn't match that.

Although we want our students to be intrinsically motivated, they are at the age where extrinsic motivation is the way to go.  I've tried many different things in my 30 years of teaching and these are the steps that have served me best:

1. Find out what is motivating to the students with a survey.

I do this by using a very simple Google form that provides a list of free things students can earn like a tardy pass or bonus points.  Click here to get a copy of that Google Form.

The first step in motivating your middle school students is to find out what they are willing to work for!

2.  Create a system for earning the rewards.

This can be as simple or complex as you like.  Click here to read about 3 reward systems I have used in the past.

The system that has worked the best for me has been the "Big Brain" system.  This is based on Whole Brain Teaching's Super Improver System.  Students earn rewards for individual progress and when they level up, they earn a reward for that level.  

The rewards were first chosen by the students usinghe Google Form from step #1.  When I looked at the graph of what students chose, I made the most valuable reward the top tier reward and the second most desired reward the second from the top reward and so on.  Since they chose the rewards, they were more invested.

Buy the best part of this system is that all students can win based on their own individual effort.  I've done variations of this system with paper chains and Teams.  Whatever you choose to use, just make sure that it's used consistently.

If the system you choose isn't working, tweak it - but don't abandon it.  If you abandon it, that sends the message that it's ok to quit when things get tough.  You might even consider changing the system at the start of a new grading period but still use the rewards they indicated they were willing to work for.

3. Hype up the Rewards and the System!

This may seem obvious, but the more excited you are about the system and the more you build it up, the more the students are interested.  Then once they start earning rewards, you'll see students begin to engage in a bit of friendly peer pressure.  So you might even want to make sure there are some quick wins because then you'll have them right where you want them - into the system and earning rewards for their progress.

Your students will love having something to work for and you will love that they are making gains!

Syat tuned for how to transition from extrinsic motivation to intrinsic motivation!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Providing a little extrinsic motivation will go a long way with middle school students!