I tried a new strategy to try to motivate my Year 9 Maths class. It went like this:
1. Friday morning. I meet my year 9’s at the door. As usual there are stragglers.
2. I tell the class that I am going to show them a video. “It is not directly about Mathematics. We will discuss it after the video finishes.”
3. Video: Anna Clendening sings Hallelujah on America’s got talent. (Latecomers are told to wait outside until the video finishes)
4. I wipe a tear from my eye. “Please give me a chance to recover – this video always makes me cry!”
5. Class discussion initiated: “This video always makes me very emotional – who knows why?”
6. Trent says “Because you are soft Mister!” (backfire)
7. Class erupts in laughter and I am lost for words but manage a smile.
8. Finally, I get myself under control. I pause and look each student in the eyes. I say (in a quiet, serious voice) ” I get emotional because Anna gave her best performance ever, after fighting depression and anxiety. As a teacher, I want you, my students, to give your best performance in our classes. I want you to be the best you can be.”
9. The students are quiet as I hand out the days work (basic numeracy skills) and ask them for their best work.