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NYC Helpline: How To: Develop as a Professional

Motivate Your Students and Don’t Forget to Motivate Yourself
Theresa London Cooper

Recommended Book: 501 Tips for Teachers by Robert D. Ramsey, Ed.D.

Minimize ‘downtime’ in the classroom. Strive to have worthwhile learning activities going on every minute. Students attend more regularly when they are afraid they will miss out on something important.
Robert D. Ramsey, Ed.D.

As we approach the end of what I hope has been a successful school year, I would like to leave you with several tips that will motivate your students to continue to learn, support your desire to energize your classroom, and complete the school year on a positive note.

I cannot say enough about the importance of maintaining procedures and routines in the last two months of school. Teachers are tired. Students are tired. It is easy to forgo the procedures, which have helped focus you and the students to maintain a learning environment. Don’t do it. You will regret it. Of course change in some of the routines is helpful, but it must be planned and it must serve an instructional purpose. Motivation is the underlying principle. So, how does a teacher maintain motivation in the waning days of the school year?

  1. Plan several trips that will reinforce the learning that took place during the school year. I can fondly recall how I carefully planned several trips during this time of year that related to many of the concepts and ideas we studied in class. As my students attended each trip, I was thrilled to observe the connections they made and they were just as excited when they discovered how much they knew about the many topics we discussed during the school year. They often declared, “I remember when we studied…” or “We learned about this during science...”

  2. Engage students in projects that will incorporate their particular learning styles. Take pictures. Students love having their pictures taken. Help students create a display for the entire school to see. Give them opportunities to make invitations inviting family and friends to partake in their culminating activities.

  3. Team up with several colleagues and organize a field trip to allow the students to run, jump, and play. Play is a great way to energize students--and provide them with an appropriate channel to release their energy--especially at this time of year. I find field trips will often make students more receptive to being in the class on other sun-filled days. It gives them something to look forward to as they refine their understanding of sportsmanship, teamwork, and community.

  4. Speak to the Parent Coordinator and PA President in your school to assist you in preparing a Family Literacy/Math Night. We give one annually in my school. The parents and the children love it. Teachers create several different stations with practical activities that parents and children can duplicate at home. Students come to class and talk about what a great time they had. Parents talk about what they learned and how much fun they had during morning line up.

  5. Ask the students for ideas about the kinds of things they like to do. As teachers we sometimes forget to ask students what they think about how they learn and what they like. They give helpful suggestions that bring exciting and engaging experiences to the classroom.

  6. Always remember to take care of yourself. Over the years, I have learned how important it is to get the appropriate amount of rest, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy diet and spend time with loved ones doing something fun. There is no way you can have the energy you need to think, plan, and enjoy teaching your students if you deny yourself these four conditions on a regular basis.

I hope these suggestions will support your efforts in making your students’ school year a memorable learning experience. Below is a brief list of trips that my classes, my friends and I have enjoyed over the years. Take a trip and let me know what you and your students think.


The Brooklyn Children’s Museum 718 735-4400
The Brooklyn Museum 718 638-5000
Prospect Park/Wildlife Center 718 965-8951
718 399-7339
The New York Aquarium 718 562-4735


Green Meadows Farm 718 470-0224
The Hall of Science 718 699 -0005


Carnegie Hall 212 903-9629
The Cloisters 212 923-3700
The Metropolitan Museum of Art 212 288-7733
The Hayden Planetarium 212 769-5920
The New Victory Theater 646-233-3020

Staten Island

Staten Island Zoo 718 442-3100

The Bronx

The Bronx Zoo and Wildlife Conservation Park 718 367-1010

Do you have a comment or question about this article?  E-mail Theresa.


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