A Simple Motivation Hack To Include In Your Teaching

So tonight we did that OREO lesson again, where the teams have to arrange 30 sentences into 10 groups and then order each group into the right structure (Opinion, Reason and Example). Only here’s what we did a bit differently.

Each time the team had successfully ordered the group of sentences correctly, I’d pick up the correct paper and suddenly say: “Stop”. Holding up the paper which had just been successfully arranged, I told them “Whenever you make a step of progress, remember to do this with your eyes.” I then placed the successfully completed task on the ground in a separate pile, leaving the students wondering what the hell was going on. “Okay, keep going.”

So once they’d completed the next grouping successfully, they would instinctively just move onto the next one, before I interjected. “Stop” I announced again. “Whenever you make an extra step of progress, remember to do this with your eyes.” I said as I held the completed task up for them to look at before placing it in the pile with the other ones. “Now look over here, and notice how the pile of completed tasks, despite looking only small, is growing bit by bit. Now as you look back at the tasks you still have to complete, notice how it seems that little bit less overwhelming.”

They noticed, but looked a bit confused, before continuing back on task. Once again, as the next task was successfully completed, I did the same thing. And then again, and then again, and then again and so forth.

By the time that over half the tasks had been completed, I explained what we were doing and why it was so important.

“So…” I began “..when people are trying to lose weight, and the look down at the scales – each time they see the scales have dropped, they feel motivated to keep going. Each time they look down and see the weight hasn’t dropped however, guess what – they soon lose the motivation. So what you don’t want to do, is wait until you’ve completely finished an entire project or wait until you achieve your end goal to notice your progress. If you do that, you’ll lose motivation and get overwhelmed. So every time you make one little extra step of progress, remember to stop. Show yourself some kind of visual indication of that progress before you keep going. Then each additional little step, no matter how small, remember to stop and notice it. Notice the hell out of it in fact. Celebrate every little win along the way. Make sure that your eyes can see it and make sure that your brain knows it. Look also now at how much less you have to complete as a result of being able to differentiate between what you’ve done and how much you have left. Notice the pile of completed tasks grow each time, and notice the pile of remaining tasks becoming smaller and easier to manage.”

This is a simple little motivation hack but it makes the world of difference.

“When you grow up, you become accustomed to your parents, teachers, coaches and eventually your employers being there to tell you what to do. But not every moment of your life is going to be like this. There are going to be times where there’s no one there to guide and motivate you. Now your brain doesn’t come with a user manual, so here we learn more than just literacy and numeracy skills – we also learn how to use your brain to work better and become more motivated. When you keep an eye on each step of progress, it creates a feeling of momentum. And momentum is what makes you feel motivation when you’d otherwise want to stop.”

By the way, this is not only a simple yet powerful strategy to implement when you are teaching young students. You can use it when teaching anyone anything – most importantly, yourself. Whatever you’re feeling unmotivated towards, whatever you’re feeling stuck on and whatever you could use some momentum to get started and keep going with. Remember to stop, notice the hell out of every little step of progress no matter how small. Feel the momentum and eventually, you will be conditioned to keep going and achieve whatever it is you set out to achieve. In fact, the more motivated you feel and the more confident your ability to regulate your own brain to keep you motivated, the bigger your goals and ambitions will grow once you realise that you can achieve just about anything.

If you have any other cool little teaching hacks like this, let us know. Check out the Tutoring Baulkham Hills website or check out out Tutor Blog at the Home Tutors Sydney website and get in touch so we can share your know-how with the world!

About Stuart Adams

Stuart Adams is the founder and Managing Director of TOTC. He is a former School Teacher and Careers Advisor as well as a qualified Dietitian and Psychotherapist. His Psychotherapist Sydney website has loads of free learning resources covering all areas of mental health.

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