Inspiration comes first

Anyone can build better habits. Anyone can master the habits that lead to success in school. But what will motivate a student to work hard and build good habits?


If you are uninspired, the first job is to start dreaming. Who do you want to be? Where do you want to go? Once you have a dream, you won’t have to search for motivation. Every time you feel tired, just think of your dream and the energy will come back. Follow that dream!

And teachers, remember that unmotivated students are uninspired students. Help them find a dream that will make the perspiration worthwhile.

Inspire them first; then ask them to work.

How Teachers Can Help

Students can build good habits and break bad ones on their own, if they are determined. But success rates rise dramatically when they get support from teachers, parents, and friends.

So what can teachers do to help?

Require students to write their assignments in a homework diary.

This simple act works wonders. The key is for teachers to require it, not simply remind or nag. Teachers who have the bad habit of shouting out the homework assignment as the lesson is ending and students are packing up encourage students to develop the bad habit of not writing down their assignments. Students who don’t write down the assignment are much more likely to forget it, or to remember it incorrectly.

Instead, teachers should develop some good habits that will help their students develop good habits. Give out the homework assignment before the end of the lesson, and provide time for students to take out their diaries and copy it down. When students are working, move around the room and check homework diaries. Praise those who have written down the assignment; remind those who haven’t, and watch while they do it. Do this every day: daily repetition builds habits.

With a very small investment of class time, teachers can dramatically improve their students’ performance. Not only will students complete your homework assignments—they will develop an essential good habit that will serve them well for years.

Try it. Then, when you see what a difference one teacher’s efforts can make, enlist your colleagues and make this a school-wide initiative.