kids in bow ties, with one holding a megaphone

As a teacher, how can I inspire an unmotivated student?

5 simple steps to take to help inspire unmotivated students

The new term is upon us, and you’re already trying to find ways to inspire unmotivated students. Here are our tips to help make the school year more productive.

With new classes comes new problems. Not only might you be facing issues around classroom management, you may also have become aware of unmotivated students in your lessons. Whether you’re teaching at high school, or primary school, no matter how much professional development you’ve done over the summer break, you still don’t really know how to solve the issue.

In this guide, we’ll seek to help you push through the issue of inspiring unmotivated students.

1. Be consistent

Whether you’re a teaching maverick, or like to play it by the book, you need to be consistent in order to inspire an unmotivated student. If teaching is presented in an inconsistent way, a student is far more likely to disrupt a classroom activity. Inconsistency can even turn motivator students into unmotivated learners.

From primary school to secondary school, respect amongst school students is garnered through consistent teaching methods. From having a predictable hook, to playing soothing music in each lesson, the classroom environment needs to be roughly the same. Try to remain positive each day too. But the most important thing for students is that they know what they’re walking into each day.

2. Give responsibilities

Students all have different learning styles, and react to different methods of teaching differently too. But most students react positively to added responsibility. This is especially the case for unmotivated students. For young students in primary schools, this can be something as simple as letting them write the date on the whiteboard each morning, or even distributing worksheets.

The same principle can be applied to secondary school students too. Giving an unmotivated student the opportunity to teach a small group on the learnings from their homework, for example, can give them a greater feeling of self worth, which in turn inspires and motivates them in the classroom. There are obviously numerous ways to empower students in the classroom, but giving an unmotivated student extra responsibilities is a sure fire way to increase engagement.

3. Make time to listen

As teachers, we’re increasingly strapped for time. With increasing workloads, growing classroom sizes, and more pressure than ever to achieve exceptional exam results, finding the time just to do your daily job can be challenging. Whilst we understand this, one of the most important aspects to inspiring an unmotivated student is making the time to listen to their problems.

Often, disengagement can stem from issues that lie outside of the curriculum. Whether it be issues at home, a lack of food to eat at lunch, or mental health problems (which is growing amongst teenagers), an unmotivated student doesn’t always mean your lessons aren’t engaging.

Simply taking the time to listen can often be the reassurance and support a student needs. Though you may not be able to work miracles, through listening you can lift a weight off their shoulders. And by passing information onto relevant people within the school, you can potentially reduce their issues over the long term too.

4. Highlight their positives

Whilst it can be easy to be critical, especially if unmotivated students are being disruptive, often highlighting a student’s positives can get them back on track. Whether their motivation, or lack of it, has been influenced by recent failures, or anxiety over their overall ability, it is important to remain positive.

Celebrate what your unmotivated student is good at. This could be something as basic as their reading or spelling ability in a primary school environment, their understanding of trigonometry in secondary school, or their artistic ability in sixth form. Whatever their unique skills, you can always find a particular aspect to celebrate. By doing this, you will instill confidence, and this could potentially turn an unmotivated student into an engaged one.


5. Regularly track their progress

Tracking progress has become a regular part of a teachers job. Whilst some teachers say that the amount of tracking and data has gone too far, especially with increasing time restrictions, tracking an unmotivated student’s progress can give you genuine insights which you can then use to increase motivation levels in the classroom.

Without tracking, it can be easy to focus on the negatives. If an unmotivated student is causing classroom disruption, this is the thing we tend to focus on. After all, it can cause motivated students to become distracted. But by analysing a students progress, we can then see the genuine growth they are making over the course of a term, year or entire school life. From this, you can then show a student just how far they’ve come, mapping out the journey they have made over time. This can give a student confidence, and influence how a school student sees their time at school. Pair this with highlighting their positives, and you can quickly turn things around.


As a teacher, the question of how you can inspire an unmotivated student can cause hours, days, even months of frustration. But by following these simple steps, you may be able to turn things around. Even for the most unmotivated person in your lesson.

If you are interested in the latest teaching roles from across the UK, register with us today, get in touch with our team, or search for current openings below!

How useful did you find this article?
Thank you for your feedback!
1.0 / 5.0