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How to Teach and Motivate the Un-motivated

by Professor Joe Martin

It’s been proven that the number one reason why most students drop out of school (mentally and emotionally) is a lack of purpose (typically described as: “school is boring and a waste of time.”

Lack of purpose refers to a lack of clear, compelling reasons for “sticking with the program,” which results in the misuse and abuse of a limited resource called time. As a teacher, your job is to make sure that your students do not fall victim to this infamous culprit.

In actuality, there’s only so much you can do to emotionally connect with a student and save him from his own demise. Quite simply, there are things beyond your direct control.

Poor living conditions, lack of family support, peer pressure, and social problems are all factors that can negatively influence the school success formula for each student in your class.




However, there are indeed some things you CAN control in the classroom that can offset a lot of the negative issues students face outside of the classroom. In reference to communicating the importance of an education, the best thing you can do for your students is to model success in the classroom.

In other words, share your own methods, stories, strategies, and ideas for success. Also, don’t be afraid to share your horror stories on how you “used to be,” when you didn’t apply the concepts you currently teach.

If you’re currently struggling with a lack of motivation, tell them so, and agree to work through it with them as a participant in the class, not just as a teacher. The level of trust you will build with your students will be immeasurable, and at the same time, you will grow as a professional.

The key is that you must have conviction for the material and concepts you’re teaching. No one is going to believe the messenger if she doesn’t believe in the message – they’re inseparable.

Teach and lead by example. Have your students stop by and talk to you about the struggles they’re having with motivation. Assure your students of their self worth by separating them from their problems. Constantly remind them that failure is not permanent, but neither is success.


Joe Martin is an award-winning national speaker, author, professor, and educational consultant. His mission is to help students, teachers, and administrators learn, lead, and live with purpose and passion. To find out more visit his web site at


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