In addition to my day job here at Teachhub/the Alliance, I teach an online English/comp class for a local community college. The last few semesters have been going really well...for about half the class.
For those who participate, they are enthused, really engaged in the reading and improve tremendously throughout the semester. Most of these students are my over-achievers and adult students who actually enjoy the chance to discuss short stories with other adults. They post more than they're required to, clearly take note of critiques and suggestions on their papers and contact me throughout the semester.
There are then my other students who do the bare minimum, if that, turn everything in late and eventually stop "showing up" at all. I just don't know how to motivate these students early in the semester so they stick with it.
Though my class requires a solid amount of work and I am a "hard grader," I try to offer a lot of choices - variety in the reading, open paper topics and optional extra credit assignments. I try to share my love of reading and writing. I try to let them focus on their improvement more than grades by making participation a big part of their grade, providing extensive comments to help them improve between essays and offering extra credit. I try to be available by replying promptly to emails and giving them my cell.
I know I could probably become more popular with some of these students by grading easier, but that's a cop out. No teacher I had at my four-year university would accept that and I really believe that I would be shortchanging my students if I didn't maintain this level of expectation.
How can I motivate my students without dropping standards and expectations? Help me and other teachers out by sharing your tips in the comments section. Or take the poll for fun.