I love being a teacher. I LOVE the job inside the walls of my classroom.
Now, there are things, along with every other job, that drive me crazy. It can be a thankless and exhausting job. At times, it can be an impossible job to cover all of the curriculum in a limited amount of time, and the tests? Don’t even get me started on the standardized and meaningless tests. I hate what they do to my students and my friends who are, if I do say so myself, exceptional educators. It doesn’t pay much when you compare the hours put into the job, and the summers “off” are notwhatchathink!
BUT, it’s a calling and it called to my heart loudly!
Some of the things that I dislike the most about my job are the common misconceptions. #1 on my list is the statement that I’m pretty sure adults have been saying since the Paleolithic Era.
“Kids today are SO lazy. They just don’t care!”
They AREN’T simply lazy.
And they DO care.
They have LOST their enthusiasm.
They are in NEED of a proper motivator.
And guess what? Sometimes the best motivator is their teacher. Sometimes the fact of the matter is that we care more about their education than anyone else in their entire world.
The power in motivating today’s students to learn (and to WANT to learn) might just mean changing what we do everyday.
If what we’re doing is suddenly not working, and it continues to not work, doesn’t it make sense to explore other options? We would expect it of our students, why not of ourselves?
Growth mindset, people.
I get it. As busy teachers who put our heart and soul into teaching, our time is sparse. BELIEVE YOU ME, I’ve met a whole host of teachers who PUNCH into a time clock at 8 o’clock and PUNCH out at the end of their day, doing a limited amount of work in between and absolutely NONE after. This message is NOT for them because they don’t want to elicit change.
This message speaks to the educator at the end of his or her rope… Who hasn’t thrown in the towel, and mostly, this message is for me.
The last time that I afforded myself the time to reflect on my profession… (Is this very moment while I type this blog… The last time before this that I truly spent reflecting thoroughly on my job, my methodology, my efficacy?)
I have no recollection. I honestly cannot remember. And that makes my heart heavy…
In our society we place high expectations on professionals in other fields to stay current in order to maintain their relevancy. We, as educators, try our best to do the same. Of course, we are faced with doing so on our own time, as many of the most relevant aspects of education aren’t often provided to us with any meaningful depth in arenas of professional development.
Granted, I make it a point to attend every cutting edge training, read every article that grabs my attention, and share ideas with colleagues at every turn. HOWEVER, time to reflect on the efficacy of our own individual practices, data collection, wonderings, etc. Well, that needs to happen outside of our PLC’s
(This is the BIG buzzword, non-teacher peeps… Professional Learning Communities).
As a life-long student of psychology, I am fascinated by behavior. What once was a hobby or interest for me has become a central component of my life, having a child with autism who greatly benefits from Applied Behavioral Analysis. It’s a complicated and multifaceted approach that one of our first therapists, Denise, would say, “is the practice of applying behavioral principles to everyday situations in order to understand behavior and bring about behavior change.”
It doesn’t just work for autism, it doesn’t just work for children, it WORKS, period. (But please don’t tell my husband that I’ve become so adept!)
I try to carry this practice over in my classroom by always attempting to find the function of any given behavior first and foremost in order to figure out how to best change it… OR TO reflect upon what needs to change within MY practice!
IF change needs to occur it is helpful to figure out what is going on before, during and after that moment of “UGH!” Identify it, and then modify as needed.
I’m not going to lie, this takes a lot of time and effort but it is absolutely invaluable.
I am not an expert on motivation, behavior or education for that matter. I like to think that I am an effective educator and that my love for learning about psychology, the science of behavior, and education has brought me to a place that I feel confident in sharing tools that have helped me greatly along the way.
The following are some very helpful resources that have helped to remind me of what I probably already know, but am forgetting to do… The painfully obvious, yet enlightening material that we tend to put on the back burner when life gets hectic or we become complacent.
(You know, like waking up in the morning and KNOWING that you should have taken off your makeup and brushed your teeth before you crashed from a 18 hour workday the day before grades are due and you’ve graded so many projects that your eyes are crossing involuntarily – which is a topic of another blog, for another day.)
Teaching could very well be one of the most important and difficult jobs I have ever held. It would be nice if that job came with an instruction manual with tips and tricks of how to best troubleshoot when things go wrong… This list is part of my soon to be released New York Times Best Seller, or, more likely, the much needed next entry on this dusty ol’ blog.
Strategies for Helping Students Motivate Themselves
One of my current favorite platforms for educational articles on motivation, learning and a plethora of strategies is EDUTOPIA, which was founded by George Lucas. Need I say more?
How Writing Down Specific Goals Can Empower Struggling Students
Data Collection? NAH! In this article, “students reflect on important moments in their past, identify key personal motivations and create plans for the future, including specific goals and strategies to overcome obstacles.” WRITING as a combination of goal setting and creative expression. I can’t think of a single individual that I know who wouldn’t benefit from a form of this exercise!
Teaching Strategies: Motivating Students
I particularly enjoyed reading topics such as Motivating Student’s BEST Work and Capturing and Directing the Motivation to Learn
Student Motivations and Attitudes: The Role of the Affective Domain in Geoscience Learning
I really loved the part about offering choices and the statement,
“When students are struggling with poor academic performance, low self-efficacy or low motivation, one strategy that may help is to teach them how to learn.” So obvious, and yet… So NOT.
Vanderbilt University’s Motivating Students
This website is my FAVORITE go-to for clarity, resources and refreshers.
And lastly, Texas Tech provided this gem, which is a long and deep read but AMAZING!
How Do I Motivate My Students?