Top Ten Ways to Encourage Your Students to do Their Best
by KJN Paul Holley
A lot of us Hapkido Teachers as well as other stylists were taught the old school military hard way of learning but unfortunately, only a few made it through the training and became teachers of the martial arts. Most of the individuals could not handle the military type training and quit training and they are probably the ones that needed it the most. We should encourage our students, so they keep training. We know how challenging it is to motivate students while teaching our specific subjects and attending to classroom management, we also understand the importance of motivation.
You will have some students enter your classroom with unequivocally developed intrinsic motivation, and you will have students enter your classroom with absolutely no motivation.
We as Martial Arts Teachers must be able to teach everyone who walks into their Dojang and incite motivation in those who have no motivation at all. Motivating the difficult to motivate is challenging; however, it can be done.
In addressing the needs of students with little to no motivation, it will take more time, patience, and understanding; however, implementing a few of these strategies will put you on the fast track to lighting that fire under them.
As instructors, we want our students to show up consistently, try their best, and put the work in. But there’s a problem: Students sign up for classes and then drop out quickly.
Motivation is one of the biggest factors in learning. Moreover, intrinsic motivation is the most lasting and meaningful type of motivation for there is for learning.
If you’re unsure what it means to have intrinsic motivation or extrinsic motivation, here are examples.
Extrinsic motivation is a motivation based on something outside of yourself. For example, a parent promises you ice cream for passing a math test.
Intrinsic motivation is a desire to do something based on your own internal interests — one might say, based on your internal rewards.
- Give them words of encouragement:
When you see a student is struggling with his or her training and having a hard time staying motivated, some words of encouragement will help motivate and inspire them.
- Believe it or not, (Students Name) the tough times most often dissolve into easier times. You’ve got what it takes to get past the tough times.
- You know why people make mistakes? Because they are willing to see just how far they can push themselves. You don’t know what you’re capable of achieving until you try to achieve it.
- If you fall 4 times, know that you are perfectly capable of standing up 5 times.
- You are the only one who can decide how to end your martial arts story. Endings aren’t written by circumstances. They are written by students like you.
- Feeling motivated doesn’t always make you feel like you’ve got Superman’s powers. Sometimes, motivation and determination is that quiet but clear voice that tells you tomorrow is another day to try, try and keep trying.
- Develop a Student Teacher Relationship:
- Like it or not, your relationship with your students is a powerful influence on them. This is especially so with children, but it applies to adults as well.
- Make it a point to get to know each student and demonstrate your interest by asking them about their weekend, sports game, fishing or other activities they may participate in.
- If you have children students involve the parents and enlist their aid to help encourage the students. Parents are a key factor in a students’ motivation. It is important to develop your relationship with these crucial allies. Try making positive phone calls home prior to the negative phone calls to help build an effective relationship. Involve parents by sending home a weekly newsletter or by inviting them into your classroom for special events. Inform them that you are a team and have the same goals for their child.
- Try new teaching methods:
- Vary your teaching methods. If you become bored with the lessons you have been teaching, it’s likely that your students have also become bored with it.
- Try new teaching activities. Invite a guest teacher or a guest speaker to your Dojang or do some role-play scenarios into your lessons. Do some games with students that help their balance, speed, and overall techniques. Teacher and student enjoyment in the classroom are positively linked, and teachers who display great enthusiasm will affect the teacher and student enjoyment factor.
- Although intrinsic motivation is preferred incentives may also be used when appropriate. Training hard to earn a Special Certificate of Training can be an effective method for improving learning and positively affecting student behavior.
- Tangible and intangible incentives may be used to motivate students if they have not developed intrinsic motivation. Intangible items may include lunch with the teacher, a show-and-tell session. Of course, any good incentives thought of by the teacher.
- Asking Questions:
- Encourage your students to ask questions regularly. If your students are unwilling to ask questions in front of the class, try implementing a large poster board or poster paper where students are encouraged to use sticky notes to write down their questions anonymously. Teachers can refer to the questions and answer them at a separate time. Also, consider allowing students to share questions in small groups or with partners.
- Give them time to understand:
- After giving students instructions, allow them some time to process those instructions. They may be slow learners and won’t pick things up in one go. If they are slow learners, instruct them slowly and then give them some time to follow the instructions. And always treat them with care and respect. Give them positive feedback to keep them motivated.
- Communication with children becomes difficult if they feel threatened and scared. Always take care of the children and give them respect. When they are dealt with care and love, they will learn better and want to keep training because they feel comfortable and relaxed.
- Praise their process:
- If the chief motivator for training is to get a black belt, then most students will quit once they reach it. If they even make it that far, most do. However, any veteran martial artist knows that martial arts is about an endless process of your own personal development.
- The better way to motivate students to train is to praise the process of hard work and commitment. We want to help them delight in the learning experience itself rather than just the end results. You must encourage your students to value commitment and hard work and to enjoy the learning process. But real behavioral changes take place when you see them absorbing those traits and praise them for it.
- Encourage students to set goals:
When students don’t have established goals in mind, they are the ones most likely to quit training as opposed to those who have a clear purpose for enrolling in martial arts classes such as achieving a black belt or just improving their overall level of physical fitness. Always encourage your students to set personal goals. When sitting down with prospective students, it is a good idea to have them write down their goals and refer to them whenever they feel unmotivated to train.
Another way to keep things interesting is to set goals with your students. Martial arts students need to have something to strive for in a training environment. If they don’t have any goals, they will quickly become bored and unmotivated. Make sure you help them set some achievable goals, such as getting a new belt or learning a new technique.
Setting goals is an important part of their martial arts journey. Having something to aim for gives your martial arts students something to focus on. Knowing that there is something to push for will help them feel that each training session is one step closer to achieving their goal. And once they’ve completed that goal, make sure you congratulate them. Don’t wait too long to set the next goal. Keep the momentum going forward.
- Encourage them to compete:
- Competition can be a great way to motivate martial arts students. Encourage your students to compete in public tournaments or sparring matches at your Dojang. It gives them something to work towards and can help them see their own progress. Knowing that all the training you’re helping them with is going to be put to the test is a massive motivator. Although, make sure that they’re not getting too far ahead of themselves though. The last thing either you or your students want is for them to have taken on a challenge too soon. If for example, some students from your beginner classes want to take on someone with three or four years of experience, they won’t enjoy the experience and they will most likely feel as though they’re not capable enough to be good martial artists.
- Host Special Events
- Special events are a great retention tool. It’s a good way to build community and make your students feel like they belong. You could host a mixture of free and paid events such as pizza parties, end of the school year parties, holiday celebrations, birthday parties and specialty classes, such as team sparring, etc.
Paul C Holley, 9th Dan Founder of Tong Hap Kwan Hapkido
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