Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Motivation Frustration

It is the last week of school this week and I am finding myself wishing I was a motivation super hero for my students. With a current pass rate for the semester of 58%, I am scrambling to motivate 42% of my learners to pass my class. In online learning, student motivation is the biggest challenge I face. If a student fails my art course, it is solely because they have not completed enough assignments to pass the course. It is easy to get sucked into my own frustration this week rather than continue to do everything I can to let them know it is not too late and I have not given up on them.

Here are the methods I am focusing on this week:
  • Passing instructions: I started my mission to save my failing students with an email that listed all the assignments they could choose from and how many they need to do in order to pass my class. Sometimes it is a little disappointing to know students want to do the bare minimum to earn their credit, but as teachers we all know this is true sometimes and it is easier to motivate a student when they feel the goal is within their reach.
  • Phone calls: Reaching out to students over the phone is sometimes the make it or break it in their motivation. It's easy to forget they are more than just a overlooked name in my classroom if I do not reach out to them. As I have spoken with my students who are failing this week, many of them have been thankful for my call and already working on the assignments they need to submit. 
  • Personal emails: Not all of my students answer me when I call, and sometimes their numbers do not work. At this point I turn to emails, but they still need to be personal. Now, instead of many options for passing I have moved to specific assignments for each student to complete that will push them to a passing grade. I look at the number of assignments they need, pick the ones I want them to do, and send out the message with a read receipt. I have found that for some students, a specific list is more motivational than many options. To remind students that these emails are personal I put in the subject line "Passing instructions for (student name)" or if they are only one assignment away from passing it will say "(student name) you are ONE assignment from passing". 
  • Offering extensions when possible: Deadlines are important as they give procrastinating students a reminder that they really need to get it done. However, when possible, offering extra time gives students the extra push they need to know that you care about their success enough to grant extra time. I never offer this extra time until the very end so as to not promote more procrastination.
In addition to these end of school year efforts, I send out midterm and final grades through the mail, contact legal guardians and students regularly, and send out weekly emails of tasks to complete. It often feels like we are fighting an uphill battle as online educators but each time I see a student work hard and earn a passing grade (even at the very end), I am reminded that my efforts have all been worth it. 

1 comment:

  1. Great write-up! Writing is a talent, and it must not be wasted. As with everything that we had been entrusted, we should

    let it grow and share it with the world.>life long learner