Sharing ideas on Education, Leadership and Life

Monday, January 5, 2015


Picture from ASCD

Yesterdays prompt was about our own growth and motivation and today the topic is how can we instill that in our students. Well obviously if we are positive and motivated then that should come across to our students. One of the most powerful tools we have is the ability to be role models and without even saying a word we could effect the lives of our students. Honestly powerful but scary.

Below is a post I wrote in September about motivation and I am reposting here for this blog challenge.

I think we could all agree that today we want our students to be motivated and engaged in the learning process. Daniel Pink says "With engagement you're doing something because you truly want to do it, because you see the virtues of doing it. However Pink contrasts that with complaint behavior when do something because someone told to do it.

Many classroom by default are places that we see more complaint behavior than engaged behavior and in reality we need to shift this so that students are engaged and are given a sense of freedom.

Pink says it best; We need leaders, both in organizations and in schools, who create an atmosphere in which people have a sufficient degree of freedom; can move toward mastery on something that matters;and know why they're do something, not just how to do it.........As parents, as teachers, as entire organization, our instinct it toward greater control. We think control is going to make something better. But people only have two reactions to control: They comply or defy. We don't want defiant kids but we also don't want compliant kids. We want kids who are engaged. If you truly want to engage kids, you have to pull back on the control, and create conditions in which they can tap into their own inner motivations."

To have engaged students we need to give up on the control and allow the natural motivation to shine. All students are motivated the only question is what is their level of motivation. By giving up control and allowing the motivation to come through we will end up with more engaged students.

Jackson and Zmuda in their article "4 Keys to Student Engagement" also make the the distinction between Complaint and Engaged. They point out the following:

"Real engagements not compliance. We can't pine for engaged learners when our policies and practices tend to focus on producing compliant learners. If we want to grow capacity in our students;unearth student talents, dreams, and aspirations; and instill perseverance through a focus on doing hard work, learning from mistakes and revising one's work,we need to design classroom practices around securing real engagement.

To sort of wrap things up Cossett and Gilmore in their article "10 Standards for Motivation " give us a top 10 list:

The need for Active Learning
Lessons incorporate student autonomy
Learning is relevant
Frequent opportunities for collaboration
Appropriate use of technology
Multiple learning methods
A balance of challenge and success the create independence.
Feedback and authentic assessment
Inquiry that promotes a sense of curiosity and desire to learn

To sum up : Motivation + Autonomy= Engagement and Compliance and Control reduce motivation and therefore limit true engagement.


  1. Yes! Autonomy via expected parameters, yet students have the power to get engaged and then motivate themselves. Great post!