- *Reflection: Where do I start?? Constructing lessons can feel intimidating to new teachers. One method is to build it backwards; starting with, “What is the learning goal/objective I want my students to know at the end of this lesson or unit?” Don’t forget your Essential Question! After you have determined this, ask yourself:
- What basic knowledge and skills do my students need to complete this activity?
- What knowledge base do my student have?
- To what extend is the process of learning the basic knowledge likely to distract from my students’ ability to learn the skills and knowledge which is the goal of the activity.
- To what extent can students with greater skills/knowledge support those with a gap in their skills/knowledge during this activity?
- What activities can/must be done prior to the desired activity to enable my students to successfully complete and benefit from the activity I am considering?
- Is it possible to adjust this activity to better fit my students’ skill/knowledge set?
- *Reflection: What about motivation (part 2)? Drive and motivation have been studied extensively since the 1970s and the jury is in. When considering how to best motivate your students in learning, it is important to understand innate human drive and how it informs motivation and reward:
- Autonomy: having a degree of control over what needs to happen and how it can be done
- Competence: feeling that one has the ability to be successful in doing it
- Relatedness: doing the activity helps them feel more connected to others, and feel cared about by people whom they respect
- Relevance/Purpose: the work must be seen by students as interesting and valuable to them, and useful to their present lives and/or hopes and dreams for the future
What types of motivation supports these basic drives?
- Intrinsic vs Extrinsic
- Motivation vs Rewards
What does each look like and when is each best used to optimize student motivation for learning? Do you notice an over-reliance on extrinsic reward systems, both tangible (stickers, treats, etc.) and non-tangible (praise, extra privileges, etc.), to motivate students? It is true, these often work for immediate and short term desired results, but often at the cost of students developing intrinsic motivation, which is needed for long-term success and mastery. Extrinsic rewards also tend to undermine creative and higher order thinking.
*Point to ponder: Children are innately curious and self-directed; how can you harness these attributes to turn work into play?
*Tip: Extrinsic rewards can turn play into work, intrinsic rewards can turn work into play. Which would you rather?
“Rewards and punishment is the lowest form of education.” ~ Zhuangzi
- *Reflection: The Right Question… to promote behavior change. As teachers, we often fall back on behaviors of habit. Sometimes this is seen in the way we talk with students when they are not behaving in ways we want. We ask closed and judgmental questions that do not elicit responses that help the student change their behavior for the better. Instead, consider how to frame a series of questions that help students understand their own motivations so they can make better intentional choices. Break it down and walk through the event with the student: “what happened… then what happened… then what happened?” Repeat the responses to the student for clarity. This micro-walk through the events often uncovers the underlying reasons and shows them to the student. Or the Five Whys method: When a student gives you a reason for their behavior ask “why” five times until they have peeled back the surface reasons to their underlying motivation.