How to Motivate Middle School Students

motivation in school

Teaching middle school students is no easy feat. These kids at an age where they want their independence but they’re still too immature to be left alone entirely. They need a lot of guidance in order to succeed. Plus, since they’re dealing with the pressures of growing up and the hormones that come with it, they tend to get emotional and their moods are hard to manage. Therefore, it’s extremely important for teachers to learn the tricks that work for motivating these socially and biologically flustered young minds.

Student Engagement

Middle school students aren’t going to motivate themselves. They’re not at an age where they’re particularly excited about learning. That’s why teachers have to engage their students in order to teach them. Plus, since not every student is able to learn in the same way or at the same rate, various methods of teaching and engagement have to be used. For example, while one student may thrive in a hands-on setting, other students learn best by reading. So teachers need to get to know their students on an individual basis. This is essential in tailoring the best approach so that each child is given a chance to succeed.

Treat Them With Respect

[showmyads]A major problem that many middle school teachers face is students who aren’t respectful of each other or even the teacher. This is tricky, because educators have to simultaneously put their foot down without resorting to nastiness or losing their patience. The first step to getting students to act respectfully is to be respectful to them. Treating your students the way that you want them to treat others is effective because it showcases the right attitude without forcing them to follow your example. This doesn’t mean letting students get away with anything they want or do. Rather, it involves using firm yet courteous language and actions that make your boundaries and position clear.

Developing Relationships With Students

In order for middle school students to truly listen to their teachers, they have to feel like there’s a personal connection there. All too often, teachers look for features of students that need to be corrected. Instead, teachers should look for the good qualities in their students and draw them out even more. Students in middle school already have enough problems when it comes to handling their developing relationships with friends and members of the opposite sex. Adding more baggage to students by not being their friend isn’t going to help them or help capture their attention in class.

Ways to Encourage Positive Emotions

In order to motivate students, you have to spark their positive emotions. Then, they’ll feel like they want to learn and participate in class. A few ways to do that include:

  • Assigning classroom jobs to students. This gives every student a sense of purpose and also helps them to work together.
  • Discussing individual and generational interests with students. This shows students that you’re interested in them and it also helps the teacher understand why some students say and act the way they do.
  • Giving rewards to students who excel.
  • Having regular contact with each student’s parent.
  • Including portions of other classroom curriculum in class – this shows unification throughout the school.
  • Knowing each student beyond just their name.
  • Praising students when they do something well or accomplish something meaningful.
  • Treating the class to food treats, when appropriate.

Attention-Grabbing Practices

Part of keeping students motivated and engaged is getting their attention when they seem to be distracted. Using a bell or a specific saying to alert students that they have to listen works over time. Also, asking the class snap questions ensures that everyone will perk up. The tension that’s created when students think they may be called on to answer a question helps them to come to class prepared and also to listen while in class. Instead of calling on a student and then asking a question, which only makes all other students tune out, don’t call on any specific student to answer until the question has already been asked.


Jenny Houston is a professional blogger that writes for, a leading designer of prom dresses and Quinceanera gowns.

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