Motivation. How do you motivate your students every day? Daniel Pink says that people must have authority, autonomy, and purpose for optimum motivation. Carol Dweck’s studies state students must have a growth mindset, rather than fixed.
My husband says that kids just need a swift kick in the a$$. He is an Army Colonel– go figure. Honestly, I think all three of these theories work, but when it comes to every day, in and out lessons, I am not sure how to provide all things to all students. Sidebar: I do NOT plan on giving ANY student a swift kick! 🙂 Sometimes I feel like it, but I love them and my job too much!!
As teachers, we all have at least one student in every class that has decided to “clock out” on learning. For whatever reason (and the reasons are as individual as the kids), they have given up on school. In the past, these kids were the “rough” ones that sat in the back, or slept thru the lecture. But, today, that profile doesn’t exist. Our “Checked Out” students can be the ones in the front row, or the kid with the nicest personality.
I could sit here and write every reason why kids are not motivated, but the truth is, it doesn’t matter. What REALLY matters is the fact that I am failing at motivating them. And, from discussions I have had with other teachers, there is a common theme of teachers not being able to reach every student. Now, some people may say, “You can’t reach every student all the time,” but I am not willing to accept that. Its an excuse. I HAVE to reach them all. I HAVE to motivate them ALL!
As you can see from the first paragraph, I have spent some time reading and learning about motivation. There literature out there is great. But I think we (educators) need to have more focus/research on reaching individual kid.
We spend COUNTLESS hours in professional development every year trying to improve test scores. I am willing to bet you that if we could motivate the unmotivated students, our test scores would improve drastically!! AND those newly motivated students would have a better shot at life!
If you ask any educational Guru, they will tell you to create relationships with your students. Every teacher knows that–duh! And I believe every teacher strives to do that– (Ok , maybe not EVERY teacher- I remember one nun who taught in the 80s who did not give a $hit about her students– but that is another post! )– and for the most part, teachers create great relationships with the kids who work hard, and participate but I am willing to bet that A LOT of teachers struggle with creating bonds with kids who are “Checked OUT.”
I guess my Call to Action would be: Some professional development, Learning Community, Course of Action on motivating the unmotivated. I mean some REAL strategies not that fluff that we have all heard before!! Heck, I say get a group of “Clocked Out” students and ask them what they need! I think that is it. Rather than start out with the experts and try their suggestions, why not start with the kids and use their feedback to motivate them?????
Ok have to jump down off the soap box, and begin my daily task of stomping out ignorance!!