All posts in Student Motivation

ADHD and Motivation: Why It’s a Problem and What You Can Do

Why Kids with ADHD Find it So Hard to Keep Motivated in School and What You Can Do about It (

I am thrilled to introduce Sherry Cramer to you. Sherry is an educational therapist with over thirty years of experience working with exceptional students. She recently published a four-part series on motivation and ADHD in the Educational Therapist Journal. It was the best piece I’d ever read in the journal, but the publication is only accessible to Association members.

I wanted more educators and parents to read what she has to say, so I’m honored that she graciously agreed to guest post. Sherry is an educational therapist after my own heart; I hope you enjoy her article as much as I do. You’ll find it chock-full of concrete, actionable strategies to help students find, increase, and maintain motivation.

Please enjoy!



Enter Sherry

We all know them – kids with ADHD who are bright, energetic, and creative – yet struggle in school. They don’t enjoy learning. They prefer easier work. They give up easily.1 By all accounts, they lack motivation.

But why? Is it due to a bad attitude? Is it laziness? No, it’s in the wiring!

Read more…

The Zen of Behavior Management with Dr. Alexis Filippini (The Exceptional Educator, Ep. 4)

The Zen of Behavior Management with Dr. Alexis Filippini (The Exceptional Educator, Ep. 4)

Imagine a teacher just a few days into the school year, when BAM! Trouble.

Kids blurt out constantly. They don’t stay in their seats. No one follows directions. This once enthusiastic educator walks into work feeling more discouraged and unsupported every day. Her students’ engagement and motivation take a nose dive.

Sound familiar?

Classroom management problems can be more than a headache. For tens of thousands of teachers, these everyday frustrations erode the desire to teach. Disruptive behavior from just a few students can negatively affect learning for an entire class.

Dr. Alexis Filippini

Today Dr. Alexis Filippini shares her expertise on how to turn around everyday classroom challenges. She shares research-based approaches that support effective teaching, boost student achievement, and create a positive school climate.

Dr. Filippini distills decades of research into easily actionable strategies. Her recommendations are effective in the classroom, small group, or one-on-one setting. She shares the art and science of how to create a calm, organized learning environment.

Listen to this episode, subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher, or stream the episode below:

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9 Books Kids Actually Want to Read

9 Books Kids Actually Want to Read (

With the holidays right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to find great books for children. But if you’re the parent or teacher of a child who struggles to read, a book might not seem like much of a gift.

For reluctant readers, cracking open new books is like running the gauntlet. Will they be able to read it? Will it make sense? Will they feel embarrassed if they can’t finish the book?

If you’d like to give a child a book, and you need something enticing, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.

After years of teaching struggling readers, I’ve discovered a handful of books that any child can enjoy. There’s not just one way to read these books. Children can open the book anywhere and just enjoy the photographs. They can jump around to easier sections.

Best of all, these books are so compelling that the child will want to read a sentence or two. But there’s no pressure. There’s no expectation that they’ll start at page one and finish the entire book.

I’ve collected my favorite books that kids pick up by themselves. These books don’t need an introduction. Just leave them in a room, and children will want to investigate.

The most discriminating of readers – children with dyslexia – have field-tested these books for me. Trust me, if one of my students can’t put down a book, it’s gotta be good!

Read more…

How to Teach Students Who Are Too [Insert Emotion] to Learn, with Diana Kennedy (The Exceptional Educator, Ep. 2)

How To Teach Students Who Are Too [Insert Emotion] to Learn (

For a moment, I considered titling this episode, “How To Be A Cool Cucumber When Your Students Are Angry Apples.”

Too much fruit.

I don’t know about you, but remaining calm when a student is in pain is one of the most challenging parts of being an effective educator. And forget about actually teaching when a student goes nuclear.

Diana Kennedy

Diana Kennedy

To help us manage these common difficulties, I’d like to introduce you to my friend and colleague, Diana Kennedy. Diana is a fellow educational therapist who runs a thriving private practice in Marin County, California. She’s compassionate and playful, and one of the best educational therapists I know.

Listen to this episode and subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher or stream the episode below:

Read more…

Why Your Students Can’t Stay Seated, Organized, or Focused (And What To Do About It)

6 Ways To Teach Distracted, Disorganized Students (

This week, I’m excited to share with you two different posts (written by yours truly) on websites other than Bay Tree Blog.

Today’s article is on Adrianne Meldrum’s website, The Tutor House, and features actionable strategies for supporting students with executive functioning weaknesses. The Tutor House is a beautiful site, and if you have a moment, you should check out some of Adrianne’s terrific resources there.

I’ll get you started on today’s article right here, but to finish reading this post, you’ll need to hop over to Adrianne’s blog. Please enjoy!

Why Your Students Can’t Stay Seated, Organized, or Focused (And What To Do About It)

So, your students forget to turn their homework in too?

Mine certainly do.

Maybe you also have students who can’t sit still? Who can’t follow instructions? Who’s backpacks make your recycling bin look organized?

It’s not like your students aren’t capable. They’re bright, imaginative, and kind. Heck, they even fix your pencil sharpener for you!

Despite your best efforts, your students just don’t seem to be getting anywhere.

You might be wondering, “What am I doing wrong?”

If your disorganized, distracted students aren’t making sufficient progress, chances are good they struggle with executive function deficits.

The normal tricks of the trade aren’t going to cut it. You need explicit, strength-based strategies for supporting these different learners.

Read more…

What To Do When Your Student Says “I’m Stupid!”

What To Do When Your Student Says “I’m Stupid!” (

“There’s no pain on earth that doesn’t crave a benevolent witness.”

― Sue Monk Kidd, The Invention of Wings

You’ve heard it before, and it breaks your heart:

“I’m dumb!”

“I’m stupid!”

“Everyone is better than me!”

As educators, our usual response is, “Of course not! You’re smart!”

Unfortunately, empty reassurance doesn’t fix anything.

Here’s why. When a student confesses these feelings, they’re trusting you. They’re giving you a glimpse of deep pain. Rushing to reassure the student does nothing to heal that pain.

Instead, try empathy. Read more…

Five Games You Can Use Today To Skyrocket Student Success

Growing Engagement Through Games (

When students come to work with me, I ask them to do the tasks that are hardest for them. Then I ask them to do those tasks again and again. All this after a full day of school, where these same students fight tooth and nail to keep up with their classmates.

I can’t help but feel complimented when my students run down the hallway and burst through the office door to see me (…to the frustration of the accountant and architect next door. Sorry about that!). Bar none, the biggest reason my students are excited about our educational therapy sessions – games. Kids love games. We know this, but it can be easy to forget the power of play.

We all know that academic learning time (ALT) is hugely important. Some research indicates that kids only spend about 20% of their day successfully engaged in academic tasks (Archer & Hughes, 2010). Twenty percent. Good heavens! Think about it – kids feel successful and excited when playing, which in turn boosts their attention and retention. Games are the secret sauce for ALT. This is why I want to share with you five of the top-requested, most-played games I use every week in my practice.

Read more…

Teaching Tools for Educational Specialists