Motivation

mo·ti·va·tion [moh-tuh-vey-shuhn] noun

  1. the act or an instance of motivating,  or providing with a reason to act in a certain way (dictionary.com)

During a conversation with a colleague, the idea of motivation in the classroom came about.  This discussion coincides with some ideas I have been thinking about regarding how we reach our students.  So, I am going to try to express a complicated web of ideas with the center being motivation.

As a teacher I have been frustrated.  I have stood in front of my room looking out on my students’ faces talking to myself, “How do they not see how great this book, or poem, or lesson, is?”  Sometimes, as teachers, we take for granted that everyone knows how powerful learning is.  But if we look at popular culture, it will remind you that they don’t.

courtesy of Flickr user Rishi Menon

Idea one: The Mountain

Let’s use a metaphor for a second. If we view education as a mountain, we understand that to see the spectacular view from the top we must climb.  And that climb is hard at times.  Even an expert mountain climber (or a well educated person) needs a hand to get to the top.

Sometimes we need to remember that our students haven’t made this climb before.  Sometimes we have to reach out to them and show them the way to the mountaintop.  The view is incredible; they just don’t know it yet.

Idea Two: Practice

What if the classroom was more like practice?  Take a second to think back to what practice was like for you. How many times did the whistle blow?  How many times did coach go off on some kind of motivational rant?  Sometimes coach got on your case, other times a “nice job” was all it took to keep you going.  You were pushed, you were challenged, sometimes you were down right dog-tired yet felt great.

What does a typical classroom look, sound, feel like?  I understand the difference in the environments, but why can’t we match the energy of practice to a classroom?  The techniques and tools are different, but not what motivates a person.  In an interview on Focus on the Family for his book, coach Joe Gibbs stated that a good coach finds what works with his athletes to motivate them, be it a challenge or a simple comment like “good job.”

Everybody needs motivation; I found it as a coach when we successfully performed on the field.  As a teacher I found it in the light-bulb moment.  We all need motivation, a helping hand.  Not because we don’t know of the importance of our jobs, but because sometimes the climb is just hard.  And we forget what the view is.

Courtesy of Flickr user rbbaird

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