_____Transform your Classroom with
Layered Curriculum®. . . because every child deserves a special education_

Subscribe to Dr Kathie Nunley's Newsletter for Educators


To confirm:  Just respond to the subscription email you'll receive shortly. 

Sample Layered Curriculum Lessons What is Layered Curriculum? Teaching Tips Kathie's Calendar Contact Us & FAQ's
Conferences & On-site Workshops Hot Topics in Neuropsychology & Education

Subscribe to Newsletter

BOOKS & Training Kits

About Kathie

Layered Curriculum TEXT & WORKBOOK Set for only $43.95

(free shipping in US)



How to Create Self-Motivated Learners

By Dr. Kathie F. Nunley
© 2015

One of the most popular requests I get from schools and teachers is help with classroom management and dealing with a room full of reluctant learners. I have always found that if you create the right classroom environment, motivation and behaviors tend to take care of themselves. So how do you create a classroom that promotes self-motivation in students? It actually comes down to three simple student perceptions - choice, competence and a sense of community.

It starts with viewing yourself, the classroom teacher, as a leader of people, not a manager of student behavior. Of course, we need to hold student accountable for their behavior, but our goal is to inspire self-accountability, not micro-manage behaviors. Teachers act as leaders when they set a vision of how the learning environment should look and explain the learning goals, then allow the students to move along their own path, within the defined boundaries and timeframes.

This means we need to give students the perception that they have some control and choice in the learning process. The easiest way to do that is by setting a learning goal, then offering assignment suggestions that students can choose from to reach the goal. One of the fundamental keys to Layered Curriculum has always been student CHOICE. State the goal, offer assignment choices and then consider the assignment "completed" when the student has met the learning objective.

The second perception required for self-motivation is competence. Students need to feel that the learning is do-able. Reluctant learners often have arrived at that point through a history of failure and feelings of incompetence. So again, it is critical that the teacher include enough variety in the classroom assignment options that students of all abilities and learning modalities can be successful at some level. Lessons need to be challenging, but at least offer the perception of something that can be done by each student.

Finally, we must ensure a sense of classroom community. This means a safe environment where students feel comfortable making mistakes as well as making successes. Student collegial relationships and learning partners are encouraged and promoted. Students need a sense of belonging. One of the reasons I've been so enamored with oral defense is that is allows me to build strong personal relationships with my students and with each other.

So, you can create self-motivated learners in any classroom simply be ensuring the three necessary components - Choice, Feelings of Competence, and a strong Community.

About the Author:
Dr Kathie Nunley is an educational psychologist, researcher and author of several books on parenting and teaching, including A Student's Brain (Brains.org) and the best selling, "Differentiating the High School Classroom" (Corwin Press). She is the developer of the Layered Curriculum® method of instruction and has worked with parents and educators around the world to better structure schools to make brain-friendly environments. In addition, her work has been used by the Boeing Corporation, Family Circle Magazine, the Washington Post, and ABC television.
Email her: Kathie (at) brains.org


Layered Curriculum is a registered trademark developed by
Dr. Kathie F. Nunley.
Inquire here for usage guidelines.