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15 Ways to Encourage Student Motivation

15 ways to encourage student motivation

Encouraging Students Is Important

We all have a lot on our plates these days - young students included. If you would like to find some ways to help keep students feeling encouraged, inspired and motivated, read on for some helpful tips.

Students today deal with many different challenges. Often, they face issues that have never been faced by their teachers, parents or school administrators.  The rapid pace of advancements in learning technologies means students are constantly needing to adjust to new tools and techniques. Increasing social media use by young students can have some positive benefits. However, it can also increase their risk of exposure to cyberbullying.

Today, learning in the context of the global pandemic adds another layer of complication, and often confusion. Students in school have to get used to new rules, adjust to wearing masks and learn to practice social distancing. Students learning remotely may have to deal with feeling isolated, technology limitations or struggle with the discipline to stay focused on learning.

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With so many variables and constant changes to manage, it can be a challenge to find a sense of stability. This is why encouraging students is so important. Encouragement can help them to keep going, even in the face of uncertainty. It can provide the much needed reassurance that they are on the right track, no matter what projects or assignments they are undertaking. But is there more to encouragement than just making someone feel good? Yes! And it’s proven by scientific studies. Some benefits include:

Encouraging students helps them excel

In 2017, a journal article in Research in Higher Education found that students who were actively encouraged were more likely to go to college.

Encouraging students boosts their performance

Researchers at the Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania gathered over a dozen athletes and tested their performance with and without encouraging words. The results? The athletes performed significantly better when they were encouraged. This extends to the classroom as well. Encouraged students are more likely to score well on tests and other activities.

Encouragement affects our brain

In his book Social Intelligence: The New Science of Human Relationships, Daniel Goleman found that encouraging words not only feel good, but there’s a science to it; when we are encouraged, the areas of our brain that help us with creativity and cognitive thinking light up.

How Do Students Feel Discouraged?

Are you discouraging your students

Sometimes we discourage people without even knowing it. Here are some warning signs that you might be discouraging your students:

  1. Comparing them to other students.

  2. Being overly helpful or too dominating.

  3. Setting expectations, goals or standards that are not reasonable.

  4. Giving outlooks that see the worst in things.

  5. Trying to motivate students by showing their mistakes.

How to Encourage Students

Encouraging students is more than saying a few words of praise every now and then. In fact, many educators encourage teachers not to praise students at all. Why? Because many research studies have shown that too much praise can lead to lower self-esteem and reduced resilience over time. Conversely, encouragement rewards effort and focuses on improvement or progress towards a goal. Students who are encouraged show more resilience and willingness to keep trying when faced with challenges.

are you encouraging your students?

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So how do we encourage students? Here are 15 ways:

Give positive feedback 

Instead of telling a student that they are doing something wrong, give them suggestions for improvement.


Encouragement doesn’t always involve words. Simply by listening actively you can let a student know that you care and believe in what they’re doing.

Show empathy

Being empathetic towards a student shows them that there’s someone who understands what they are doing and is supporting them along the way.

Use positive body language

Your gestures and mannerisms mean a lot to your students. A simple eye-roll can go a long way towards discouraging your student, while a thumbs-up or genuine smile can help them feel encouraged.

Give students control of your classroom

A big part of encouraging your students is making them feel like they have a role. Letting students play a more significant role in the classroom will make them feel more valued and engaged.

Set realistic expectations

Every class and student is different. Set expectations that are appropriate. Students feel encouraged and motivated when they can see their progress as well as their achievements.

Keep it interesting 

Be willing to switch up your usual teaching methods and try new strategies. Students will be encouraged by seeing their teacher embrace new ways of doing things.

Offer incentives

Incentives don’t have to be tangible things; it can be as simple as letting a student make the announcements for the week.

Let your excitement come through

Students need to see a teacher that is excited to see them succeed. Don’t be afraid to crank up the music or bring out some games to celebrate your students’ success.

Show students their own success

Don’t just tell your students they did well. Show them why they succeeded, so they can repeat the success again.

Create an “Encouragement Wall”

Set out a place in your room or virtual classroom that showcases what success looks like. Make sure something from every student is included.

Get students actively involved

Find activities that get every student involved; it shows them that you believe in them and helps build their confidence.

Look back to move forward

Sometimes it can be encouraging to see how far you’ve come. Remind students of what they have been through, overcome and succeeded at. This helps them see what’s possible and keep a positive outlook.

Know their interests

Making your lessons relatable to what your students are interested in, is a great way to encourage and engage them. They will be motivated and inspired to keep learning.

Validate and be honest

When students share, validate their contributions. Model honesty with your students to show them respect and create a sense of trust. This helps to create an environment where students can feel safe, supported and encouraged.

Encouraging Your Students with Digital Signage

If you are looking to encourage your students visually, we have several templates that you can display on TV screens across your campus. Never thought about digital signage at your school? Or, not sure exactly what digital signage is? Read why it’s one tool no school should go without, and then become one of the thousands of schools that trust us with making a difference at your school.

Here are a few of the ways you can use digital signage to encourage your students in just seconds! All of our Templates can be customized to fit any schools branding or message. Click the Add Template button and it will be added to your account: it’s that simple!

Showcase your student of the week or month:

student of the week girl digital signage template

Add Template

student of the week boy templateAdd Template

Congratulate students for their accomplishments:

congratulations digital signage templateAdd TemplateShow off student achievements:

teacher spotlight templateAdd Template

student spotlight templateAdd Template

student of the monthAdd TemplateDo you have other creative ideas for encouraging students? We’d love to hear them.

Encouraging students isn’t the only thing you can do with digital signage. Here are just a few other ways schools use digital signage to make a difference at their school:

Download the entire collection of FREE Social and Emotional Learning posters!

- 8 landscape-oriented posters

- 8 portrait-oriented posters

- available in high-resolution PDF formats

Download Free SEL Posters

Keep your displays interesting - pick new templates every week!

Every week, we send Template recommendations that will make you look great and improve your audience experience. And the best part, they save up to 16 hours of content creation time every week.

Not convinced? Check out the email we sent last week.