Praise is the Key to Unlocking Motivation

Praise is the Key to Unlocking Motivation

What’s your motivation? What moves you to be the absolute best you that you can be? Who’s your cheerleader? Who makes you feel like you can go to the moon, kiss the stars and come back ready for another supernatural adventure?  In my classroom, with my students, I am that person. I am the motivator, the cheerleader and the nurturer. I love what my role as a teacher has morphed into.

As an educator, I believe we should plant seeds of greatness in our students. In addition to teaching academic lessons, I work very hard to instill value into each and every child because they are ALL special. They just don’t always recognize it. But I do! I see it in each and every one of them.




This summer I had the awesome opportunity to complete a blended learning pilot with middle school students in danger of being retained in 8th grade.  The summer program allowed students to complete coursework in subjects they failed during the school year. I provided additional literacy support in my Technology in Literacy class.




Students participated in a blended learning and flipped classroom environment using Edmodo, Digedu, Newsela, Wordle, MS Word and MS PowerPoint. The goal of my class was not only to provide literacy instruction in an online environment, but to also help my students become self-directed and self-motivated learners.

It was a challenge because my students depended on me to tell them what to do, how to do it and when to do it. They lacked the ability to independently read and follow step-by-step instructions.  My goal was to get them to read on their own, and figure out assignment directions without looking to me to ask what they’re supposed to do.




I wanted to help my students overcome dependency, so that I could become their own greatest, loudest, and most excited cheerleader.  My method for motivation was encouragement, affirmations, pats on the back, high fives, endless smiles, inspirational quotes and love ― lots of it along with a sincere belief that the students really could do it.

Each time they completed a task after reading the instructions and/or watching the instructional supplemental video, they received praise from me. They ate it up!

With praise, my students began to believe in what they could do! With praise they began to take pride in their work, and put more effort into their projects. Many of my students began to see value in themselves.  They vowed to do better in school so that they would not be forced to do summer school next year in order to be promoted to the next grade.



Written by Michelle Contee

Michelle Contee

Michelle is the Technology Coach & 6th Grade ELA teacher at Isacc J. Gourdine Middle School and a 2014 CityBridge-NewSchools Education Innovation Fellow

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