Are You as Motivated as a 5th Grader?


I am a self-proclaimed HR Blog addict. As a tried and true ENFP I love people and reading about personal interaction. Probably should have majored in HR. But, my creative side called and instead I make things that HR uses to help people engage and interact. Aside from my blog addiction I can’t help but apply what I read about engagement, leadership, motivation and psychology into real-world opportunities, situations and circumstance. So I write this post really to toss out questions to my readers.


I have a middle schooler this year. You know the guy. Pre-pubecent awkwardness is peeking out from my sweet elementary school child. And it usually comes in a form of “Do I have to do that?” or “Not, now.” or “I’ll take care of that later. Let me finish this game I’m playing on my DS.” You have read the research and seen the national test results. The middle school achievement dip is real and it is all aligned with normal childhood development. I get that. But, since we have turned the corner to middle school I feel I am dragging my child through the necessities of life that create a productive citizen. I know I’m not alone.

Generally my child isĀ  good student. As a proud parent I would say he is above average. Where we struggle and fall is in organization and lack of applying himself in a rigorous fashion. While he might make A’s and B’s on tests and know the material it is hard to recover from missing homework, zeros and incomplete assignments and forgotten test dates that decimate grade point averages. So we lumber on, leaving a trail of forgotten music instruments and wallets and phones. Where is the motivation to pull it together?

We cheer lead and encourage. I share tips and list-making advice. I enforce the buckle-down to study. And we try to implore a sense of hope that not all is lost when the homework goes missing. But, motivation can be lost when the ridged structure of school comes crashing down on a curious child whose distractions infect his organizational health. We are not ADD, we are a boy in middle school.

Teacher Motivation Training Needed

So my question, are there programs, consultants or systems a school district or PTO can adopt or even contract to send their teachers to motivation training? Teaching is more than putting out the academic requirements for a grade. It is about being able to motivate a child to learn it. Yeah, that old adage “You can lead a horse to water but, you can’t make him drink.” Well, that certainly applies to middle school learning.

Academics are lost if the ability to motivate is misunderstood or undeserved. I’m looking for a motivational program that can be taught to middle school teachers (grades 5-8) that can be applied to keep the learning fire lit under middle school students so they aren’t “left behind.” And I’ll keep doing my part at home to motivate. Playing hooky is not an option. Anyone have any ideas?

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One Response

  1. Joan Ginsberg Says:

    I wasn’t prepared at all when my oldest transitioned from elementary to middle school, and I was disturbed that the teachers didn’t see why their behaviors (or lack thereof) were harming these kids. Especially *my* kid.

    My response was to quit work and stay home. We took lots of cool family vacations (Russia, Alaska, and points between) and made sure they understood that their future abilities to do these kind of things was based on what they did in school today. I didn’t return to work until my youngest was out of middle school.

    I’m not sure if this really helped my kids or not, but I have two productive adults so it didn’t hurt. I would love to see more skills from the teachers, but I am a cynic when it comes to the ability to change public schools.

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