Everyone has a teacher they remember, (perhaps they have many), but they will all have something in common. These memorable teachers are the ones who inspired us as students to become better versions of ourselves.
This might be through showing us how we could overcome adversity, giving us the confidence to try something new, or simply believing in our abilities, (sometimes despite all the evidence to the contrary). It is the greatest gift that a school has, that ability to inspire their students and foster the self-belief and confidence to take on the world.
There is no magic bullet to achieving this, but there are several things that schools can consider to help them foster inspiration and motivation amongst their students.
1. Create a positive environment
To start with, we need to foster a positive learning environment. This is one which is supportive and inclusive, where students feel safe to express themselves, ask questions, and take risks. Celebrating diversity and promoting a culture of respect, empathy, and collaboration among students, teachers and parents gives them the freedom to try out new ideas, and critically to make mistakes.
2. Encourage creativity
With this in mind, it is important to encourage creativity. Providing opportunities for students to express their creativity through art, music, drama, writing, or other mediums encourages creative thinking and helps students explore their unique talents and interests. We can build further on this by incorporating where possible, students' interests and passions into the curriculum. Tailoring assignments, projects, and learning experiences to align with their individual interests, can enhance engagement and motivation.
3. Provide challenging tasks
Alongside creativity is the ability to think critically and solve problems. Providing challenging tasks and open-ended questions will help to encourage students to develop their own solutions. They will learn how to explore multiple perspectives, analyse information critically and ultimately be more confident in their ability to express themselves and their ideas.
This in turn starts to prepare them for positions of responsibility and leadership. There are often many opportunities for leadership roles within a school. These might include student council, prefect positions, or team captains, and they allow students to develop leadership skills, take ownership of their actions, and inspire their peers.
4. Share success stories
Seeing success is always inspirational, so make sure that your students know what this looks like. Share success stories of individuals who have achieved great things in various fields. Inviting guest speakers, alumni, or professionals from different industries can inspire students by giving them real-life examples to look up to and aspire towards. However, you can also take the opportunity to celebrate achievements closer to home. Acknowledge and celebrate students' accomplishments, both academically and non-academically. Recognise their efforts through awards, certificates, or public appreciation. Celebrations can inspire students to continue striving for success.
5. Foster positive relationships
And finally we come back to the teacher, as this is the individual who can really make a difference. Provide opportunities for teachers to share their own inspirational stories, to explore their own interests with their students, and give them the time and support they need to foster positive relationships with their classes.
Remember that inspiration is a very personal thing, and different students may be motivated by different factors. Nevertheless, if we can create a well-rounded environment that caters to diverse interests, abilities, and learning styles, then each student can be helped to find their own source of inspiration. All we need to do is help guide them on that journey.
For more tips and best practices read our eBook ”Supporting Student Centered Learning”. We share strategies to encourage students to take an active role in their learning and ways to empower students with skills to pursue their goal.