Special Report
Student Well-Being

Educating and Motivating Students

By The Editors — October 17, 2017 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Does my teacher know anything about my life? If I make a mistake, how will my principal treat me? Do I believe working hard in school will propel me to college, a good job, and a happy and healthy adulthood?

How students respond to those questions reveals important insights into how they view their schools, whether they feel valued while they are there, and how they see their relationships with educators.

And how students feel about school has high-stakes implications for the rest of their lives. We know well the hallmarks of a disengaged student—poor attendance, low achievement, and too often, giving up on school completely. Likewise, the signs of an engaged and motivated student—coming to school regularly, working hard, and staying on track toward a bigger goal, be it graduation, college, or a job—are well understood by educators.

But cultivating the conditions and nurturing the relationships that allow all students to thrive in school require hard and deliberate work. In this report, Education Week takes an expansive look at student engagement and motivation and a range of strategies schools, educators, advocates, and parents are using to help students get—and stay—vested in their learning. In the resulting stories, it’s clear that relationships are the linchpin.

An Oregon district is forging ties with families and tribes to combat chronic absenteeism among its Native American students. New ways of recruiting and holding onto mentors are helping deepen connections between students and the adults or peers who mentor them. An innovative take on engaging parents—especially those who work in low-wage jobs—in their children’s education has taken root in New Orleans and is about to spread to Boston.

The Cleveland school district—where nearly every student is low-income—has scrapped the isolation of in-school suspensions in favor of building trust with students who are disruptive. And if you’re an English-learner, seeing your peers succeed has a powerful influence on your own success with learning a new language.

Finally, in a pair of explainers, we explore how simple, low-cost “nudges” show promise for influencing students to act in positive ways, while the research on using financial incentives to coax higher performance is far more mixed.

A version of this article appeared in the October 18, 2017 edition of Education Week as Editor’s Note


Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue
Student Achievement Webinar Examining the Evidence: What We’re Learning From the Field About Implementing High-Dosage Tutoring Programs
Tutoring programs have become a leading strategy to address COVID-19 learning loss. What evidence-based principles can district and school leaders draw on to design, implement, measure, and improve high-quality tutoring programs? And what are districts

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Calif. Parents Who Knowingly Sent Child to School With COVID Could Face Penalty
The parents knowingly sent their COVID-19 positive child and a sibling to school, causing a coronavirus outbreak, officials said.
3 min read
Students walk past a social distancing reminder sign while heading to the nurse's office to be tested for COVID-19, during summer school at the E.N. White School in Holyoke, Mass., on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021.
Students walk past a social distancing reminder sign while heading to the nurse's office to be tested for COVID-19 during summer school at the E.N. White School in Holyoke, Mass., on Aug. 4, 2021.
Charles Krupa/AP
Student Well-Being Omicron or No, Schools Should Prepare for a Pandemic Winter
Here are answers to questions about the new strain, which is considered potentially more infectious than Delta.
4 min read
Leader holding telescope and looking ahead while on top of ladder leaning on a large virus pathogen
iStock/Getty Images Plus
Student Well-Being Opinion Want Students to 'Build a Better World?' Try Culturally Responsive Social-Emotional Learning
The practice includes expanding students’ networks and developing their awareness of what it feels, looks, and sounds like to manage emotions.
19 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
Student Well-Being Opinion Social-Emotional Learning and the Perils of Teaching as Therapy
SEL risks overburdening teachers with responsibilities they aren’t trained for, compromising their ability to build academic skills.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty