Convince students that they want to achieve [I-2]

How can I convince students that they benefit from achievement?

  • Weave your strategies into your daily lessons and ongoing classroom rituals
  • Be student-centered
  • Differentiate (when necessary)

What are some effective strategies for building students' "I Want"?

Illustrations are grouped by the proficiency that they best bring to life.

We would like to communicate our deep appreciation to these teachers who are allowing us to learn from their experiences.

Explanation

Presenting great investment lessons in the first week of school and then never revisiting those messages or themes. Many teachers present inspired one-time beginning-of-year presentations (on the achievement gap, on the value of a college education, etc.) and stop there.

Solution

For investment strategies to be effective they must be frequently and consistently delivered—not isolated and abandoned. Infuse investment strategies into the content of the daily lesson plan. This does not require major changes to the lesson plan; it simply means adding a line or two where investment can be inserted (the lesson opening lends itself especially well to investment messages).

Explanation

Investing your students in you, instead of the work. Teachers often overly rely on charisma and their ability to sway their students as a means of investment. While student admiration and affection for you is important (and will prove valuable to your investment efforts), your influence will cease at the school year’s end.

Solution

If your students are to remain invested in their academic development over the long haul (which is indeed the goal) it is vital that they believe in themselves and their own abilities—and do not just perform to please you. Make sure that your investment efforts center around nurturing and conveying the value of academic achievement (i.e. that academic success will lead to good things) that will be transferable for the rest of their lives.

Explanation

Presenting college as the only road to success can imply that those who lack a college degree are failures. Because of the number of family members who may well lack formal educations, teachers need to be extremely sensitive in their characterizations of college as the sole means of achieving meaningful success.

Solution

Emphasize the increased life options that come with education (as opposed to suggesting criticism for or superiority towards those who lack it). Go out of your way to praise those who nobly manage without formal education (while respectfully pointing out the aspects of their life that may be more difficult).

Explanation

Presenting overly theoretical school work that has no apparent purpose from a student’s perspective and lacks direct relevance to students' lives.

Solution

Seize every opportunity to present the rationale for the content you teach. Put yourself in your students' shoes and ask yourself, "Why does this matter?" If you teach history, find present-day parallels. If you teach science, relate the theory to something within the realm of your students' lives. Whenever possible - make school work relevant.

Explanation

Denying the possibility that you might have bias about your students’ life options. It is vital that the teacher’s own views of students’ life prospects are unbiased, since this will affect the teacher’s ability to inspire/motivate students.

Solution

Be willing to engage in challenging personal evaluation and reflection to deconstruct your own biases and assumptions. All of us, whether we are aware of it or not, harbor stereotypes and prejudices, and excellent teachers take time to think about how they perceive and treat different students (i.e. who “look,” “sound,” or “act” a certain way) and their families (i.e. who “look,” “sound,” or “act” a certain way), and the reasons behind those differences.

Explanation

Presenting generic pep talks that are forced on everyone is not an effective approach to investment. Overly general and broad messages-however enthusiastic and sincere-will not provide students with the specific and tailored encouragement they need.

Solution

Differentiate your approach. Think of specific things that will motivate specific children—which will require knowing your students very well. Determine the interests, values, fears, dreams, and influential relationships of your students by tailoring the motivational techniques for each student in your class (and for academic subsets of students).


Examples

Explanation

Delivering one message (College in 2013!) repeatedly throughout the year, without including the variety of messages and strategies necessary to reach all of your students. A comprehensive investment system must be multi-faceted and integrated into everything you do.

Solution

Have established systems in place to incorporate and reinforce a variety of messages. Chants, mottos, class pledges, and visual displays are a great way to integrate your messages into the structure of your classroom.