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Senior Member
ARGH!@#$% I am about to SCREAM!!!!! I have a wonderful class this year. They are very sweet and seem to be bright as well. Of course, after last year anything is good. I am so frustrated though becasue for how good they are they are equally unmotivated. I have about 4 boys and 3 girls that don't listen, pay attention, or even seem to care at times. They are not a bother to anyone, but they don't pay attention. I just gave my spelling test and 1 of my boys turned in his test and had only written 11 of the 20 words. On my reading test 1 boy turned his paper in and said I didn't finish because my pencil broke (AGAIN!). He sat there during the whole test and did nothing. (I am giving an Oral Reading Fluency test at this time.) Yet another child turned in his reading test half done. In between each child reading to me I reminded him to get on task. His mom says he'll grow out of it like his sister did. I really just needed to vent. If you have any suggestions please feel free. I am at a loss. HOW do you motivate children that are unmotivated???? I teach 2nd by the way.


New Member
Same Story

I have a class of 5th graders that are the same way. They get to do so many new things in 5th grade, but yet none of them care and none of them are interested.

I just try to play everything up like it's the biggest most exciting event in the world. Once they see how jazzed up I am, it gets a few of them motivated and then others join in with some enthusiasm. It's exhausting some days to be a cheerleader instead of a teacher, but it does get them going.

I also make it a big deal if they miss out on instructions or something like that. They have started to realize that if they don't pay attention, they might miss out on something fun.


Senior Member

Sometimes the students who cause the least management problems are the most unmotivated ones. I have found that more motivated students are usually louder and more talkative.

As far as turning in half done work, I would just give them the grade they deserve. Of course, you should check with them to see if something was wrong, but if they just didn't study, then there are consequences to that.

Maybe a class reward would help. For example, if everyone completes an assignment on time, then the class could have free time or something like that.


Junior Member

Unmotivated children are very challenging, to say the least. Have you spoken individually with these students? Have they been slacking all year, or is it just recently? If, after speaking with these students, the motivation is still not there, get the parents to join you and their children. Whip out their grades and show them. Sometimes seeing grades on paper (especially if there is a steady decline in them) makes the lack of effort and progress sink in better.


I'm a retired teacher who is now subbing. I've been in hundreds of classrooms--every grade level--over the last three years as a sub, and it has been quite an education. I've been in good classes, bad classes, and everything in between. I've had the opportunity to talk to a number of teachers and observe (and try) a number of strategies. I've had quite an education in retirement!

I really can't diagnose from my computer, but it sounds as if your seven students might have ADD. I've had numerous kids like this, and they have a very hard time sitting still and concentrating. They can be absolutely infuriating to a teacher, even if they aren't behavior problems. Still, there are a few things that can be helpful. I'm not promising that these suggestions will solve all the problems, but they may help.

1. If your principal will allow it (and some have suggested it to me), send these kids every now and then on an errand, even if it's a fake one. I've done this on occasion--sending them with fake notes to the office, but telling them that the notes are important. Having these students get up and move around (and making them think they're being helpful) in this way can help.

2. Have the kids get up now and then to stretch. I really like the basic Brain Gym movements; perhaps there is a teacher in your building who is familiar with them. I've found that sometimes restless students or students who can't concentrate do a little better after these movements. Be careful, though, with certain exercises. I've found that doing things like jumping jacks gets the kids more wound up and less able to focus.

3. If these students can't concentrate on a long spelling test, try breaking it up into two smaller tests (I tried a variation of this idea in my own classroom with some success). Could you possibly give a ten word spelling test on Wednesday and another ten word test on Friday? As far as your reading test is concerned, could you possibly give two short reading tests instead of one longer one? Could you possibly give shorter tests, but test more frequently?

4. Moving from one activity to another every 30 to 40 minutes can also be helpful.

I cannot guarantee that all of these suggestions will work. However, if you are ever questioned about what you have done for these kids, you can always say that you have implemented a number of well-accepted strategies.


Senior Member

Thank you for your replies. That was just one of those moments where you want to scream. I will try some of the suggestions. I am especially intrerested in the Brain Gym movements. Stretching and movement is something that i often break to do, but if there are certain movements that I can do that will focus on getting their brain into motion then I am all for that. Thanks again!