How to motivate students with no family support?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by newteech, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. newteech

    newteech Rookie

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    Feb 9, 2013

    My class seems broken into the haves/have nots. Half of the class works hard and does well. The other half never puts in any effort and performs poorly. The difference between the two? Family support. Those kids with supportive parents put in the effort.

    How do I motivate those kids with no parental support to try?
     
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  3. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Feb 9, 2013

    What grade?
     
  4. newteech

    newteech Rookie

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    Feb 10, 2013

    6th grade
     
  5. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    There are students who don't think there is a point in setting goals, dreaming, and planning for a future different than what they're used to...that's it's impossible to break the cycle of poverty (often those living in poverty are the ones without family support). They're not going to make a fool of themselves trying and busting their butts if they think it's all for not. Some families will even mock their efforts. So they must have role models they can relate to...not a teacher from middle class who had a teacher mom and banker dad. Maybe it's you, maybe it's another teacher, a celebrity. I like to think that sharing my experiences (being poor and making it) nudged a couple of students over the years.
     
  6. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Try reading Love and Logic. One of the quotes in the book is as follows: "'Human beings will perform for the person they love.' If a person loves himself, he will do it for himself. If he does not have that high self-esteem or belief in self, he will have to do it for someone else until the time comes that he does love himself."

    The book is about getting to be that special person in that students' life, one of the one's he loves, and will do anything for. Students will do anything for a teacher they love.

    It also shows how to get students to feel more comfortable with making decisions for themselves, so that when the time comes they will have their own motivations to make good decisions. I just read this book and I think it's marvelous, and goes way deeper than the extrinsic rewards and consequences systems that many classroom management books stop at today.
     
  7. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Good question. It is a very hard thing to combat. I image in 6th grade the future is too far away for them to really consider right now.

    Sadly, Peregrin, I don't believe your assertion is true - students will not do anything for a teacher they love. Heck, actual biological children don't do anything for their parents that they adore. Going against years of culture and community, studying when everyone else isn't, is not going to happen just to make the teacher smile the next day. Chances are, an impoverished student loves his teacher BECAUSE she accepts him as he is. Even though she pushes him to do better, it isn't going to cause him to switch everything he's been taught at home and in the neighborhood and suddenly perform academically.

    You might see an improvement with a student that makes a connection, but you won't see him doing anything and everything that is expected.
     
  8. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    Feb 10, 2013

    Keep doing what you do BEST with them.
    Reassure them that there are people like you; who care about them, and show them what positive influences they can be for the other students. WORK with any GREAT things they show improvement in, and do the positive reinforcements.
    Love them for who they are, and do your best to bring out all the good in them. I do not have time to read any of the other inputs, due to a prior engagement, BUT will read them all when I get home.
    May God be your guide in your search for answers, in order to help students like these.
    Be their lighthouse, and make that BIG positive difference!:hugs:
    Rebel1
     
  9. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Feb 10, 2013

    Be that support for them. Some students will say, "Well, newteech cares about me, so I should probably try for at least this teacher." Make them love you to the point that they will try for you. This isn't always easy, but it can work.
     
  10. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Actually, I've seen that many times, a teacher had a greater hold on a student's affections than biological parents do. I know that biological parents think that students SHOULD love them more than anyone else, and maybe deep down they do, but that affection is sometimes masked by more superficial affections for friends or other adult figures.

    Not every student loves his or her biological parents, and many of them rightly so. I know I didn't have a good relationship with my parents, and would readily turn to anything or anyone else to guide my development as I grew up.

    See, even if a parent should have a right to a student's affections and are not bad parents, a parent is seen as always there, many times demanding and pushy, taken for granted, and not cool.

    A teacher that plays their cards right can be seen as a neutral non-threatening source, if they act as more a counselor than a judge or someone who only gives commands.

    Yes as you say, a teacher will probably only attain affection status if they accept the student as they are. But I think teachers can push it further by making the student feel good about their own decisions and help guide them to make good decisions as long as they're are not being pushy or demanding. The book outlines a lot of this.

    Also a student may not do everything that is expected of them, especially when it's put as a command rather than a choice, but they will try if the teacher can foster an environment where students can choose what they want to do but feel safe enough to make a wrong decision here and there and it can be seen as a learning opportunity.

    Now, that's not to say it is easy. Building relationships, really meaningful relationships is never something that can be done on the fly, but I would venture to say that it would be effective, if you become one of those 'magic' people in a child's life.

    The 'magic' people in a child's life changes as he or she grows. When they're young children, they are the adults in their lives. Their parents (no matter how they're treated), and many times their teacher sometimes can gain an almost automatic magic status if they're warm and accepting. Once they get older they turn more to their peers as their magic people and look to them to guide their behavior. However if a teacher can be a guide and someone that makes a student feel good about learning and making their decisions (again, not an easy task to do), that teacher can be a 'magic' person on that students life, and will have a huge effect on that students' choices.

    Eventually, when students gain their own self-esteem, they will be their own magic people, and stop following the flow of peer pressure or the desires of their parents and become their own person. Teachers at this point learn to take a step back and let the student make their own decisions and mistakes from then on. (i.e. college professors, and such who just lecture and let the students learn using their own resources)
     
  11. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Feb 10, 2013

    I think in situations like this its helpful to focus on individuals as individuals. I do believe that family support has the potential to impact motivation, just as I believe teacher support and student self-esteem do. However, motivation is ultimately an individual construct, so while debating the theory of motivation may be helpful in terms of generating hypotheses as to why a student may not be exhibiting certain behaviors, those hypotheses are simply hypotheses, and before any strategies are generated you need to figure out lack of motivation for individual students.
     
  12. hopetoteach

    hopetoteach Rookie

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    Feb 10, 2013

    This is such a great question and I know there are so many of us out there that struggle with the same issue. I am a relatively new teacher but I do have some thoughts about this that I will throw out. I believe (in my school's population) that many of the parents who do not "support" their children are not doing so because of lack of interest but because of cultural and socioeconomic reasons. My understanding is that in Mexico (for example) parents do not get involved with their students education because it is a cultural norm to view education as the role of the government. Teachers and schools are considered "authorities" and parents are not asked/comfortable actively engaging in their child's school. I am hoping that at my school, we can begin to do some community outreach (e.g.have a meet and greet at a local community or an international night) that will at a minimum help these parents become more comfortable with our school, teachers and hopefully their student's education. Additionally, the issue of students not believing that investing in education will help them better their lives is a big one for me too. If you have time and interest, I would google and research "teaching for social justice" and see what you think. One of the goals of this approach is to address the issue you describe exactly...by using age appropriate issue of social justice to teach SS, LA and even math. I teach math so I am most familiar with how this looks but the idea is to take issues of injustice and evaluate them through a mathematical lens to demonstrate the power of math to help them understand the world around them. All lessons, finish with some form of age appropriate activism...posters in school, letters to local representatives etc. The message becomes that learning math provides the power to help you change your life for the better (by the way I am not doing this yet...but someday soon). One thing I do try with these kids is to focus on their obvious but often unacknowledged strengths. I look at my struggling students and I try to point out to them the courage and perseverance it takes to come to school every day and sit in class where "success" is such an uphill battle. Much of the latest writing about 21st century education emphasizes the importance of grit and perseverance and I see these qualities in many of these kids. I even tell them "anyone can show up every day to a game they know they are going to win, but it takes inner strength and courage to step onto the field knowing its going to be tough." Sorry for the rambling.
     
  13. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Not true! I pulled out about 10 of our struggling 6th grade boys at my school...struggling mostly cause they don't get the work done. These kids are in the 80/90th percentile on state tests. Very intelligent, just unmotivated! We had a real talk about what could become of them if they don't care. Struggle. Jail. Death. Now....I'd formed a relationship with them first...but some kids need that ton of bricks in their face. I invited them all to before school homework help in my room and ALL have shown up...7 of them every day so far. We have looked at the requirements for selective enrollment high schools and I am mapping out exactly what they need to do to get there. 6th graders don't have any sense in that regard. They really do need guidance.

    I have a student whose family speaks only Spanish at home. For various reasons, he never became fluent in Spanish and cannot communicate well with his own parents. As you can imagine, this has taken a toll on their relationship. I realized he had been disruptive for all of his teachers because he was DYING for someone to talk to. This kid has not put forth a lick of effort in anything the past 5 years. He's not perfect, but he's starting to actually turn things in and come in for help. Whatever he does sloppy or half-heartedly I give back and make him redo. Sure, he's frustrated...but he's doing it. I am really hopeful for his progress this year.

    LOVE IT. Courage and perseverance are big words in my class. Especially in Special Ed there is so much emphasis on weakness....these soft skills are going to carry them further than trivial knowledge. :2cents: Also, I'm stealing that quote for my classroom. :whistle:
     
  14. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    hopetoteach - where did you get that quote? It fits perfectly with my "Saints" team theme in my classroom - I even use the coach/players analogy, and we discuss how even professional ball players have to show up to practice and to work on their skills every day (motivation).
     
  15. hopetoteach

    hopetoteach Rookie

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    Thanks for the compliment. I actually made it up and I am thrilled that you find it meaningful :)
     

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