Guest Post via @tiffbutton: Old School vs New School: Where Did the Student Motivation Go?


Tiffany Boley is a Title I Interventionist, assistant track coach, event & wedding planner,  , and the Founder/Moderator of .  Connect with her on Twitter at @tiffbutton.

“MOTIVATION is what gets you started. HABIT is what keeps you going.”

-Jim Rohn, Entrepreneur

Now, I am not that old, but compared to how students are now and how it was when I was in school, it seems like there is a gigantic generational gap in the excitement kids have about going to school and learning. It just seems like a lot of them go to school with no sense of purpose. Briefly, the Instructional Reading Coach at my school and I talked about this. She stated how it almost feels as if kids are sent to school every morning, and when they get there, they don’t realize that they are there to learn and not to just get a meal and play. It’s like, they know they HAVE to go, but they don’t WANT to go. Why is that?

Old School

I have lasting memories from K-12. I can remember all of my elementary teacher names, a few of my secondary teacher names, and I could tell one thing that I liked about each one of them. I remember them being hands on and holding you accountable to everything. If you were supposed to get that paper with the F in Spelling signed and returned the next day, and you didn’t, you were held accountable for that, along with a phone call to your mom (personal I was that child who knew that when summer was over, I needed to get my mind ready for the new school year. I was ready for school so bad that I would wake up 2 to 3 times the night before school, excited to go, and it was only 3 a.m! That was every year until I graduated. Now, that’s just me, but why don’t kids today have that same excitement; enthusiasm; motivation to go?

New School

Today’s generation has so many technological resources readily available to them, and they still don’t take advantage, appreciate it, or realize its purpose. They have iPads, the new generation, iPad minis, the BYOD policy, etc. They have way more than what I did when I was in school. We were just getting the desktop Apple computers where the icon was still an apple, but it was a rainbow. Who remembers that? Guessed my age yet? Anyway, I find myself having to tell students why they are in my class, or why they are in school period. Everything with them is “Why do we have to do this?”, “Why can’t we just write 3 sentences instead of a paragraph?” “When is our next bathroom break?” They are missing the whole reason as to why it is important for them to not only be in school, but to have the attitude and motivation to learn the information necessary to become successful in life.

How Do We Get Students Started?

As teachers:

1.Encourage students

2.Get them involved

3. Get creative

4. Draw connections to real life

As parents:

1.Read to them daily

2.Get them to be expressive; talk about their feelings

3. Be involved with their education and schoolwork

4. Celebrate achievements

How Do We Keep Students Going?

As teachers:

1.Autonomy, give students freedom of choice

2. Competence, feedback on student achievement

3. Relatedness, take a genuine interest in your students

4. Relevance, how does it affect their lives

As parents:

1.Find strengths and build on them

2.Constant and consistent communication with the teacher, principal, counselor, etc.

3. Have realistic expectations


Utilizing these strategies should help increase student motivation about school. Sometimes, we have to push them a little bit harder than they push themselves because we’ve been there and we see the road that’s ahead for them. While we may not of had many distractions, gizmos, and gadgets, we didn’t have nearly as much on us as far as standards and what had to be done before the year was over. So, it is very important that we motivate them in positive ways because I’m sure it’s just as stressful on them to learn and meet those standards as it is for teachers to teach them and have them prepared for the next grade level.




One thought on “Guest Post via @tiffbutton: Old School vs New School: Where Did the Student Motivation Go?

  1. Great article!! You really hit the nail on the head with the reasonings for being in school today. Most kids just think of it as a place to go and socialize with friends and hang out. They have lost the concept of learning. However, it’s not to late to change the view. Starting with teachers like yourself who can realize this flaw and bring to light the problems this next generation faces. Great job and keep writing!! Looking forward to the next article.


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