The difficulties we’re experiencing today are temporary and we’ll soon go back to our classes.

They say, the struggle you are in today is the strength you need tomorrow. Taking in the current situation, motivating students has never been of more importance.

Getting a breakthrough to motivation, is where all teachers should start. It will be wrong to say that we, as teachers, don’t know how to motivate children.

The myth that a child is demotivated must be deleted from the minds of all. Every human action, except for human heart beating on its own volition, has its roots in a motivation. The motivation is what decides the action of students in a classroom. Every child in the class is motivated.

Going on to the second myth: it cannot be that a child is motivated one day and not so the other. Motivation is constant.

When a usually silent child suddenly points out the beauty of a teacher, that is his moment of motivation. So, instead of pulling him/her down, the vibe that motivated the child to do what s/he did must be encouraged.

The excuse that child is lazy and hence not trying is also invalid. The so-called lazy children are usually caught in a situation of learned helplessness. This is where the teacher should find the reason behind the students' inactiveness.

Offering a solution without identifying the root cause will not make a noticeable difference. If the right cause is identified, its remedy becomes a hundred percent more effective. Neither material rewards nor punishments are the right way to motivate students--the effect from both are short term. Also, teachers must not create unnecessary competition by comparing students.

This is where we look towards Maslow’s theory: we have a hierarchy of needs that range from lower to higher. As the lower needs are fulfilled, there is a tendency for other, higher needs to emerge. Once all the basic human needs are met, the need for security and stability come second. The next stage is about a person’s social needs: affection, self-esteem and respect. Once all these three stages of needs are fulfilled, a human reaches self-actualization.

Applying Maslow's theory to a classroom, teachers must ensure their students' physical needs. Ensure that they are well fed and hydrated. Teachers must not enforce any restrictions of not taking a break or use of lavatory, either. Embarrassing, shunning or making fun of a child, especially in front of his/her peers, is a complete no-no.

Teachers must, instead, encourage inquisitiveness, affiliation, power and achievements.

Maslow's Theory

A person doesn’t feel a higher need until the needs at the lower level are fulfilled.

We have a hierarchy of needs that range from basic to higher ones in nature as per Maslow's Theory, says Methil Krish. As lower ones get fulfilled, we emerge to higher ones and finally reach self-actualization

Motivation Strategies

Life is all about choices.

Common strategies that can incite motivation include being generous with praises, offering prizes, bestowing prestige, being surrounded by extroverts and gregarious company etc. Also, giving the students the power to choose and make a commitment will help teachers motivate students in the right direction, says Methil Krish.

Primary Needs for Motivation

If a child is hungry, he can never ever get motivated.

Basic needs include hunger, thirst, fresh air, adequate and sound sleep, freedom to use washrooms at their own leisure in addition to making sure there’s no embarrassment or mocking in public etc. These need to be met to ensure that the child moves on to higher needs and reaches self-actualization and remains motivated, says Methil Krish.

Secondary Needs for Motivation

Evaluate yourselves to know how big these are in your life.

Status, inquisitiveness, affiliation, power, achievement, aggressiveness, autonomy, gregariousness, praise etc. are the secondary needs that propel motivation. These vary from person to person, and satisfaction of whichever one is critical to a person is essential for them to be motivated, says Methil Krish.

Myths about Motivation

All human behavior is motivated.

Motivation has many myths surrounding it, a few of them being – a person being never motivated, motivation being subjective to time, a person being lazy enough to even make an effort etc., explains Methil Krish. The secret to motivating a student is to analyze the cause of wrong directions of motivation or to encourage a small shoot of sudden motivation in such a way that it blooms into a flower.