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Keeping motivated during lockdown

Research from The Health Foundation in December 2020, showed that the most common issues affecting wellbeing during the pandemic were worry about the future (63%), feeling stressed or anxious (56%) and feeling bored (49%). So, it’s no surprise that keeping and maintaining motivation is high on everyone’s agenda.

As we adjust to another lockdown there are some constants that remain important – routine, exercise and mental health. Maintaining these three things can make a real difference to quality of life and motivation.

Although motivation is a key focus now due to circumstances, it’s an important skill that people will use for life and once it’s learned, it can be used to create resilience for whatever comes our way in the future.

Navigating the ever-changing landscape and supporting colleagues, learners, peers and even parents to stay motivated is a huge challenge, so in order to support you, we’ve compiled some top tips!

Tips for teachers

  • Create a dedicated office space.
    Ensure you have a dedicated quiet space to concentrate. You’ll feel more motivated during work and the lines between that and home life won’t become blurred. If you have an actual office, even better – as this creates more of a work feel which can increase productivity. If not, make sure you put your laptop, books and any other materials away at the end of the day to ensure you switch off and aren’t tempted to look at work once you’ve finished.
  • Plan ahead as much as much as possible.
    Knowing where you are with things will ensure you have time during the day to get out or away from your computer. This can drive motivation, whilst also ensuring work doesn’t creep into home time, which supports with maintaining a routine, another key factor to motivation.
  • Try to remember that this is a temporary situation.
    We are in a much better position than we were during the first lockdown – we’ve learnt along the way.

Tips for supporting learners

  • Encourage learners to have some form of control over their learning where possible.
    With so much uncertainty, feeling in control can reduce anxieties and increase motivation. Why not run a poll once or twice a week asking students what they would like to learn from two different options? This will make them feel involved, valued and heard – something we all appreciate.
  • Keep things interactive.
    Learning at home can seem isolating at times and there can be a lot of distractions. Ways you can do this include:
    • Running quizzes or polls during online lessons to keep learners involved and help them to maintain concentration.
    • Running regular competitions. Social competition has been demonstrated to be a powerful means of promoting individuals' interest in study materials during learning.
    • Set learners an exercise to identify what motivates them (parents can support younger children with this), so they can apply this to their learning.
  • Ensure learners have time in their day to relax.
    Encourage them to do one thing daily that they enjoy, whether that’s physical exercise, a virtual call with a friend or reading a book. This can refresh perspectives and attitudes, helping learners to feel more motivated for the next part of the day.
  • Set goals.
    Online learning needs to be more structured than classroom-based learning, as there can be barriers to interaction and reduced one-to-one interaction. Having goals will help learners to understand what they’re working towards.
  • Consider implementing a buddy scheme.
    Pair learners up with a peer for interaction and an improved learning experience. This will increase peer-to-peer support and reduce feelings of isolation, and therefore improve motivation. Learners could choose what they focus on in their buddy sessions or have directed study based on a particular subject.
  • Give regular praise and feedback.
    Positive reinforcement can go a long way to encouraging positive behaviour and motivation and this gives the opportunity for you to liaise with learners individually. Feedback needs to be more detailed and regular when done online, compared to a classroom setting where there is more opportunity for two-way dialogue.

Boost motivation with Fika

We’ve teamed up with Fika to bring you an innovative app, evidenced to support students’ mental fitness and wellbeing. The only platform of its kind, Fika is designed to develop the 7 skills of mental fitness, with courses proven to improve study outcomes, build focus skills, and boost motivation. Find out more about the app and our one-year FREE offer at ncfe.org.uk/fika

Tips for supporting parents

  • Engage them in the learning process.
    As parents of younger children once again become educators, it’s important to liaise regularly and inform them about their child’s learning requirements and needs.
  • Ensure open communication.
    Share any problems or concerns so that these can be addressed at home. This goes for older learners too – although parents might have less of a role for college learners, they will still play a part in encouraging their child, keeping them motivated and monitoring their study time.
  • Record videos to support parents with home schooling.
    This will ensure they feel supported and the approach is more joined up. For example, create tips for teaching at home – you do it every day – what can parents implement at home to ensure their child stays motivated?
  • Build a parent community.
    This will allow parents to communicate amongst themselves and share tips, whether it’s ideas for home study for younger children or how to motivate older learners now that many exams have been cancelled.
  • Encourage parents to maintain routine and allocate time for something fun. This could include play time for younger children or a virtual catch up for older learners.
  • Provide useful resources for further support.
    This should include both support with teaching and mental health. Poor mental health can affect motivation, as well as a number of other things. As mentioned above, Scope and NSPCC both offer some great resources.

Tips for supporting staff and peers

  • Ensure open and regular communication.
    This will maintain morale and therefore motivation. Ofsted recently reported that ‘virtual communication has played an important role in building relationships among staff.’ This doesn’t have to be inclusive to colleagues either, source and share teacher networks so peers can share best practice, concerns, or just have a catch up with like-minded people.
  • Explore new ways of working to mitigate increased workloads.
    Are existing ways of working sufficient, and if not, how can they be tweaked to make them more appropriate? Ask your colleagues for their thoughts and ensure that they feel encouraged to contribute ideas and express how they are feeling. Making everyone feel involved and heard will increase motivation. Much like when supporting learners, this comes back to giving people more control, so they feel motivated.

So, as we continue to navigate through the current lockdown, remember to embrace online learning as the new normal - it’s here to stay! Embracing is rather than resisting it will help to maintain motivation – see it as an opportunity, rather than an interim quick fix as the result of the pandemic. Also recognise the positives of the situation – it’s providing an opportunity to build new skills with lots of growth sectors providing new opportunities – a great factor in increasing motivation!

For more tips on motivation, read the recent blog: finding motivation during a pandemic, from Dan Howard, Managing Director of Skills Forward.

Daniel Howard
Daniel Howard
Unemployment is not a new issue, but it is very much at the forefront of both the public and government agenda as we emerge from lockdown measures and move towards more normality in our day to day lives.
Kievah Wallace
Kievah Wallace
‘Learning loss’ is a well-documented challenge faced by parents, learners and educators during the course of the pandemic. There’s no doubt that barriers to learning (including the recent extended lockdowns) have the potential to widen achievement gaps, affect short-term outcomes for learners as well as having longer term implications in terms of progression prospects and economic impacts.
Danielle McCullough
Danielle McCullough
Association of Colleges
Association of Colleges
Association of Colleges has published results from a survey of colleges, revealing the extent of damage to students’ education during the pandemic.