Tagged “Motivation”

Kevin T. Goddard

Motivation Matters

Middle school kids are a different breed. If you aren't motivating them, they are not learning. In fact, they are probably tearing something up if motivation isn't in the picture. During my years as a middle school principal, I figured out that building a school culture with character education, fun, and a sense of belonging was key to improving student achievement.

The year before I arrived at a junior high of 510 students, teachers sent students 5,090 times to the office for disciplinary infractions. Discipline was handled in three different ways: kick the kid out, let the kid sit on the bench outside the office and go to their next class with no consequence, or paddle them. The school board was very adamant that this building culture change.

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Encourage Student Passions with Genius Hour

Founded on an innovation championed by businesses like FedEx and Google, "the genius hour" sets aside school time (at least an hour, every week) for students to work on something they are passionate about. This video outlines some basic tenets of implementing "genius hour" programming at your school and points to further resources (tutorials, lesson ideas, and connections to other educators) at www.geniushour.com.

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Laura Varlas

Turning Around the Teen Brain by Building Effort

Neuroplasticity means humans have the ability to change their brains through repeated, adaptive practice. Buy-in, however, can be a huge hurdle in getting students to invest effort in the actions that will grow their brains.

"If the brain's not buying in, then it's not changing," author Eric Jensen noted in his 2014 ASCD Annual Conference session, "Turnaround Tools for the Teenage Brain."

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Whole Child Symposium

Russell Quaglia: From Dreaming to Doing

Post written by Laura Varlas

Russell Quaglia - 2014 ASCD Annual ConferenceHow would you rate your ability to put your dreams into practice? How would you rate your students?

Aspirations—having goals and being inspired in the present to pursue them—challenge us to match our dreams with actions, explained Russell Quaglia at his lively 2014 ASCD Annual Conference general session. But for many students, he added, aspirations get lost in the limbo between dreaming and doing.

"We have a lot of dreamers, but not a lot of doers," he said. "The disconnect between kids' hopes and dreams and how they're going to reach them is profound." Drawing on MyVoice surveys of more than 1 million students done by the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations (QISA), Quaglia argued that this gap is symptomatic of a student population in which about half feel disengaged and disconnected from their school community.

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Kevin Parr

Back to Basics: From Quick Fixes to Sustainable Change

School improvement conversations usually focus on quick fixes, those strategies thought to make immediate improvements to student achievement. While this model may work well for some, kids (and their teachers) remain unconvinced because their needs were never really considered to begin with—just their test scores. Even so, schools are encouraged to implement these overly simplistic strategies in spite of the fact they contradict most everything great teachers know to be true and effective.

Teachers know effective teaching connects students to their learning by creating purpose, meaning and enjoyment. They also know effective teaching allows students to feel a sense of accomplishment by using their learning to affect the world around them. At best, quick fix models are short sighted. At worst they are negatively affecting the school experience for large groups of kids who yearn to be motivated, engaged, and have purpose for their learning. In this way, the cycle of disengagement, low test scores, and new quick fixes is perpetuated. To remedy this, we need to replace quick fixes with long-term, sustainable changes aimed at teaching kids in their entirety, not just their data profiles. In short, we need to get back to the real basics of education.

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Klea Scharberg

Insights on Writing: A Core Skill

Writing: A Core Skill - ASCD Educational LeadershipWriting powerfully is a skill that teachers know every student needs to develop if he or she is to have the best chances in life. Yet, paradoxically, it's one of the skills that students most often resist practicing. The April 2014 issue of Educational Leadership examines the many ways to help students grow as writers. Articles in this issue look at some of the central skills involved in the complex act of writing—and how educators can get past students' too-common resistance to writing.

In her "Perspectives" column, Editor-in-Chief Marge Scherer notes the struggle teachers have between setting high expectations for students while also convincing them that writing can be a useful, a joy, and even an art. She asks,

"So how are teachers of all subjects going to meet the challenges of teaching students to be effective writers who don't hate to write? How are they going to prepare students to engage in all kinds of writing that they will need in the future—academic discourse, report writing, journalism, personal narrative, and even tweets? Today, social media of all kinds provide us outlets to share our personal ideas like never before. In the blogosphere, however, the highly structured five-paragraph essays rarely are those most clicked on. Come to think of it, which of your favorite books do you remember for their great sentence combinations? A new kind of literate writing is called for."

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Klea Scharberg

Engage Students with Motivation 3.0

In this video, Daniel Pink talks to the Patterson Foundation about the need to upgrade our approach to motivation in schools. He uses the metaphor of an outdated computer operating system to characterize motivational practices that rely on punishments and rewards to elicit desired behavior. Although "carrots and sticks" motivation works well when the outcomes are simple tasks, this is not a suitable operating system for the complex, creative thinking required of 21st century students. Pink recommends upgrading to "motivation 3.0," or an operating system predicated on the principles of autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

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Kevin Parr

March Madness: What Teachers Can Learn From Great Coaches

The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is underway and millions of people are tuned in to root for their favorite team or more likely, to earn bragging rights via the office betting pool. No matter the reason, the fate of these fans' success rests in the success of the teams they are rooting for.

Conventional wisdom would tell us that the secret to a winning basketball team is simple; they have the best players. Although having skillful players does help, it seems that the skills and attitude of the coach plays an even more significant role in predicting the success of a team. The proof lies in the fact that great coaches turn losing programs into winning programs and they do it wherever they go.

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Kevin Parr

Keep Students and Parents (and Teachers) Initiative Fatigue Free

Last week I entered a meeting feeling pretty good about my teaching life. I was sticking with my goals for the year, trying some new things outside my comfort zone, and achieving some success doing them, but soon my head was fixed on all of the things I wasn't doing. All I could think about were the things other people were doing or telling me I should be doing that I wasn't. I was feeling inadequate and I just couldn't shake it. I was, as ASCD CEO and Executive Director Dr. Gene R. Carter recently phrased it on a panel discussing developing teacher leaders, experiencing "initiative fatigue." There was too much, too fast, and with too little time for me to evaluate or prioritize the ideas coming at me, let alone do anything with them. I was overwhelmed and anxious. I was lost.

Assuming that I was not the only teacher in the room feeling that way (and I doubt I was), what was the collective effect of those feelings having on the atmosphere of our school? Were all of these well-intentioned ideas empowering teachers or disenfranchising them?

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ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Combining Intrinsic Motivation and Student Autonomy for Sustained Success

Post written by Matthew J. Weyers

Two years ago, prompted by a blog post that asked, "How many student assignments end up in the recycling bin within minutes of students seeing the grade?," I began thinking about the role of rewards and social interaction in education. The post's question hit close to home, and made me reflect deeply on my current practice. I decided to evaluate my 6th grade language arts and science courses through the lens of two questions: Beyond a letter grade, what motivation do my students have to do well? and, If the primary motivation is extrinsic, how can I make the project more intrinsically motivating? By the end of the school year, I had a three-pronged answer. I had to

  • Relinquish a certain level of control and place added responsibility on students.
  • Allow students to produce work for an authentic audience (meaning not just for me).
  • Give students autonomous opportunities to collaborate on their work.

Here are some of the practices I'm using to hit these three targets.

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