Thursday, June 16, 2011

Motivating Thoughts

As I have been reading my way to a makeover in my teaching methods, I have been struck by how three concepts keep turning up in most of my reading, whether books, tweets, or blogs.  They are as follows:
  • Autonomy
Human beings, students included, desire the ability to make decisions about how we live our lives.  I've come to the harsh realization that my teaching style has revolved around my decisions about what to learn, how to learn, and when to learn.  While there are certain standards I am held to by my administration, I resolve to endow the students with the right to decide how we will learn, how the students will demonstrate the learning, and whether in some cases the content has already been learned and no further instruction is needed.

  • Relatedness
We, as humans, have the desire to connect with each other.  So many times I have been too busy "covering" the content that I lose sight of the human element.  No more!  I am already planning ways to encourage community not only among classmates and with me, but children with their parents especially in relation to what and how the students are learning.

  • Competence
Finally, people desire the opportunity to show their ability to complete a task or demonstrate a skill.  When I remove the opportunities to show competence by high-pressure situations involving grades and evaluations, I have done my students a disservice.  The foundation of my new system of assessment, highlighting mastery as opposed to one and done evaluations, is already well on its way to completion.

These ideas are most certainly not my own.  These concepts have been distilled through research done by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan.  Their research is mentioned briefly in Alfie Kohn's book Beyond Discipline. If you are interested in a greater examination of Deci and Ryan's research and motivation in general, check out Drive by Daniel Pink.  Pink's book along with several by Kohn are guiding me on my path to reexamining my method of learning with my students.

No comments:

Post a Comment