How To Get Your Students To Do Their Work

How to get your students to do their work

Getting your students to do their work can sometimes be difficult!

There are times when kids are disruptive or challenging because they are bored!

A relevant curriculum combined with student-centred, engaging pedagogy, can go a long way to preventing off-task behaviour.

The Top Ten Mistakes Teachers Make with Teaching and Learning

1. Give kids boring work. Making the tasks and learning relevant and engaging is the teacher’s job. When students are asked what they expect from their teachers, they overwhelmingly ask for a teacher who:

a) doesn’t yell,

b) isn’t late and

c) doesn’t give boring work.

If you want to motivate students, figure out what interests them and use that to link content to prior knowledge or students background. For effective ways to use group work see here.


2. Do the same thing over and over. When teachers use variety to engage their students, they feel energized too. Trying out new strategies, giving students autonomy to determine how they learn and creating an excitement about the learning is one of the perks of teaching. Be creative in the way you present material to students.


3. Teach kids things they already know how to do. Graeme Nuthall (The Hidden Lives of Learners) discovered through his research that 40-50% of what teachers teach, students already know. We can encourage students to be more self-directed by allowing them to determine when they need explicit instruction or assistance, and when they can simply get on with the task.


4. Don’t give students choice in their work. Teachers are always looking for ways to motivate their students and giving students choice in what, how and with whom they learn is a great start. Consider using Ralph Pirozzo matrices that combine Bloom’s Taxonomy and Gardner’s Learning Styles to produce an inspiring and motivating unit of work.


5. Don’t give students autonomy in their learning. Dan Pink in Drive talks about what motivates us and his research findings are directly applicable to student learning. Autonomy means deciding what, how and with whom they will learn.


6. Don’t use student interests and strengths to engage them. You are missing a golden opportunity when you don’t identify student interests and strengths and build upon them. According to Eric Jensen’s Teaching with the Brain in Mind, engagement occurs through linking the learning to emotion, being specific (not general) and making it novel (not familiar).


7. Give work that is too hard or too easy. Have you heard of the Goldilocks Principle? Teachers need to provide tasks that are not too easy, not too hard but just right! It is a constant challenge to adequately address the range of student abilities and interests. For effective ways to differentiate the learning see here.


8. Don’t build on prior learning. When you use what students already know and make the connections for them you are making the learning process meaningful and relatable.


9. Use a literacy approach to all content. We all know that students learn differently. Employing as much variety into the way we present information to students is essential i.e. video, audio, diagrams, maps, graphs, PowerPoint presentations, music, art and dance to teach, not only engages students, but also makes the learning more enjoyable and memorable.

How To Get Your Students To Do Their Work quote

10. Focus on product rather than process. The aim of education is not to have students who get all the answers correct, but to develop and encourage lifelong learning. The task of the teacher is to provide a classroom climate that emphasises how to figure things out rather than knowing content. When we focus on thinking rather than correct answers, we develop 21st Century learners who are problem solvers, creative thinkers, collaborators and effective communicators.