Let’s face it- figuring out methods for motivating middle and high school students can be quite a challenge. In my 13 years as a middle and high school teacher, I have worked, re-worked and circled back around when it comes to classroom management strategies that actually make my students WANT to come to my class and DO THE WORK! However, about 5 years ago, I stumbled upon these 3 AMAZING methods for motivating middle and high school students and have finally found something that WORKS! It’s my secret weapon in combating student lethargy and I’m so excited to share it with you in this post!

*Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the post to grab the FREE resources that accompany this post!

Check out my 3 NO-FAIL Methods for Motivating Students:


Everyone likes to be recognized. This includes our students. I have made it my mission to motivate my students by creating a goal worth reaching. I’ve been able to do this with my WALL OF FAME. The WOF is simply a bulletin board that showcases students that have scored a 90 or above on a unit exam.

After each test, I add students’ names to the board. The day after a test, my students come into class to find their names flashing on the SMART board at the front of the room. I play Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” and we clap and cheer for the students as they enter the classroom. Once the bell rings, I call each student to the front of the room and present them with a certificate and goodies. We cheer for them and celebrate their victory with them. I cannot begin to tell you how motivated my students have become since the implementation of the WOF.


Ok….so this could be (hands down) the one strategy that has had the biggest impact on my ability to manage my classroom. Once I began the implementation of my ticket system, I saw a significant increase in my students’ behavior, motivation, and overall attitude toward being in my class. It’s a super-simple concept- reward students with tickets and allow them to cash-in the tickets for things that they WANT. That’s it! That’s my secret! Here’s how to implement this system into your classroom:

1-Purchase a roll of carnival tickets

I recommend a color that you can’t find in any of your local stores. I learned the hard way that some students are dishonest. All carnival tickets come with numbers on them, I write down the numbers on the rolls that I have and check when students cash-in tickets to ensure they are the tickets that I have given to them.

2-Create a Ticket Cash-In Reward Chart.

Students want to know what they are working for, so I have several Ticket Cash-In charts hanging in my classroom. I offer several rewards for my students- candy, drinks, bonus points on tests, homework passes, class pop-corn/movie party, etc. and the students LOVE it!

3-Begin issuing tickets

I give tickets for EVERYTHING: good sub behavior, wearing our school colors on Friday, answering questions during class, winning review games, and I often give tickets instead of grades. For example, instead of taking homework and grading it, I reward students for completing their homework with tickets. This has, in turn, increased the number of students that complete homework. Genius!

4-Create a designated “Ticket Cash In” Day

This is important. This program is only effective if it’s efficient. I only allow my students to “cash in” their tickets once per 9 weeks (4 times per year). The day before a ticket cash-in day, I bake brownies, buy some snacks and treats, print homework passes and lay all of the “goodies” out on a table so that students can see what they can buy with their tickets. Once a year, I pop pop-corn and allow the students the opportunity to watch a Science movie and have pop-corn and drinks. They have to pay 10 tickets to watch the movie, 10 tickets to buy pop-corn, and 10 tickets for a drink. I announce this once a year opportunity WEEKS in advance so that students have the opportunity to save their tickets. It’s a STUDENT-FAVORITE and is definitely worth implementing!


Students are typically highly competitive, which is what makes this Teacher Vs. Student game so effective. Here’s how it works:

1- Create 3 areas of focus for your classroom.

For example, I want my students to come in to class each day and begin working QUIETLY on their seat-work. This is one of my “areas of focus.” If you want your students to do their homework, this could be area of focus for your classroom.

2- Communicate with your students the expectations for receiving points (see picture below).

This is super-important. Your students need to know EXACTLY what’s expected of them. Then, have a designated area in your classroom where you post the point trackers. *Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the post to grab a copy of these signs.

3-Start playing!

Each time that the class follows the targeted behaviors, they get a point. Of course, when the class is not following the targeted behaviors, the teacher gets a point. Each time that a point is added to the chart, I announce “STUDENT POINT” or “TEACHER POINT” so that they are quickly made aware that someone is/isn’t following the targeted behaviors. The KEY is to keep the points close so that the class doesn’t give up. I usually run the game for 4 weeks, rewarding the class at the end of the month if they Beat the Teacher. Rewards vary, but they enjoy HOMEWORK-FREE weeks the most. 🙂

If you are struggling to find a way to motivate your kiddos, try implementing one of these 3 methods for motivating middle and high school students in your own classroom! I’m SURE that you will see a dramatic increase in student motivation just by adding ONE of these strategies.

Be sure to grab the FREE printables that I have created for these strategies! Just click HERE to have them sent directly to your email address.

You may also want to check out my previous blog posts that offer some amazing tips and FREE resources:

As always, thanks for checking out my blog and THANK YOU FOR THE AMAZING WORK THAT YOU DO AS A TEACHER!

Until next time….much love!!!

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