Archives for December 2010
In teaching there are many methods and theories about what constitutes good teaching practice and classroom management. My theory is that you should find something that works and go for it! Once you have got the fundamentals working for you then you have a basis for you to experiment with other ideas. The more I travel and speak to teachers about teaching strategies the more I see them get caught up in discussions about the latest theories etc without firstly mastering the basics. This teacher training blog is largely about getting the basics right and breaking the processes down into bite size pieces that can be easily implemented into the classroom.
Most teachers have a different routine to starting the year. My wife is a teacher and I was discussing this with her. She teaches with a very different style than me so her suggestion was buy yourself a new Day Book and a nice black felt tip pen. On the way home get your nails done and then when you are feeling great start to plan your year.
Success psychologists say that 99% of all results [both good and bad] are built upon routines
I’m not the ‘get my nails done’ kinda guy, and I prefer to use technology rather than a day book, but here are the four exact steps you should implement to increase student engagement and motivation and therefore reduce your classroom management woes.
Teachers as a whole are stressed out and consistently under pressure. As I was thinking about this and what we can do to help I thought it might be good to dedicate each Friday to a lighter look at life and teaching. Feel free to leave your own LOL moments and stories in the comment section below.
Christmas funny by I was sitting in my office on the first Sunday of December. Outside in the courtyard of our church the men were in the process of building the stage for a live nativity scene. As my door was open I overheard 2 of the children discussing the process. One asked the other, “What is this going to be?” The other answered, “Oh they are building a live fertility scene.” – Walter Lauster.
The first grade class presented a nativity play just before Christmas. When Joseph came to the inn and asked if there was any room in the inn, the little boy playing the inn keeper replied, “You’re lucky! We just had a cancellation!”
Our youngest daughter Nancy was almost 4. My wife and I and our 4 older children had tried to prepare Nancy for Christmas by talking with her about the real meaning of Christmas and why our family celebrated it. Nancy had a wonderful Christmas with a lot of presents and toys. A few days later, she was talking with her older sister about what a great Christmas she had, and said, “I sure hope Mary and Joseph have another baby.”
For a free eBook – “How To Bounce Back After A Bad Day”, enter your details into the optin box at the bottom of your screen and you will gain access to an immediate download as well as the eBook “5 Essential Classroom Management Strategies.”.
Have a Merry Christmas from Mike and Leadwell Professional Development.
In this post I referenced a statistic that said that studies show that on average 50% of students are not engaged, 20% are actively disengaged – the reason – not interested
In Dan Pinks book ‘Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us’ he suggests that the reason they are not interested in their studies is because we have taught them not to be.
In his book he describes an experiment conducted by Deci and Ryan in 1969.
In the experiment they brought in two groups for a one hour session over three consecutive days and gave each group a Soma Puzzle.
Each group was given three puzzle configurations to make and the researches timed how long it took to make the configuration.
After they had completed the three puzzles the researchers said that they wanted to give them a forth but had to go away for a few minutes and decide what one. The researches left them with the puzzle and a copy of time magazine, the New Yorker and playboy. Deci and Ryan then left the room for eight minutes and observed what the participants did.
On the second day Deci and Ryan repeated the experiment, but this time they told one group they would pay them equivalent of $6 for each puzzle (the other group just got new drawings and no offer of pay).
On the third day no pay was offered to either group.
Here is what Deci and Ryan found:
When I first posted this I received a question that I felt was worth sharing.
Question: Doesn’t student compliance come with student engagement? 🙂
My answer (expanded here):
When it comes to our understanding of management and motivation within the school system a lot of what we believe comes from the industrial revolution. It was during the industrial revolution that people began to look at everything through the lens of systems and processes.
In the school context university or at least further study was seen to be the ultimate goal so the question was then asked; “What system can we put in place to ‘produce’ students who are able to study at the tertiary level?” From there it was generally believed that all students should be treated equally and be given equal opportunity to study at a tertiary level.
On average 50% of students are not engaged, 20% are actively disengaged, leaving only about 30% of our students actively engaged in their education
It was from this ideology or worldview that policies such as standardised curriculum where we want all schools to be equal was first developed (and interestingly today in Australia is a major focus again.)
The problem is that the reality is that not all students are equal, nor should all students want to go onto further study. If they did society would literally fall apart because the simple reality is that for society to function we need all sorts of people who can perform all sorts of tasks to keep things running.
So not only did our worldview come out of the industrial revolution but so did our management processes. It was thought that the best way to be efficient was to have a system for everything.
When it came to the system of human motivation it was thought that the best way to motivate people was by threats and rewards (to further understand this thought see this post.)
The problem that we face in 2010 is that statistics tell us that on average 50% of students are not engaged, 20% are actively disengaged, leaving only about 30% of our students actively engaged in their education (think about this is the context of your classroom and I think it will be true for you no matter where you are!)
So what has gone wrong? We will look at this more in the next post.
If you take a quick look over the last couple of posts you will understand that as teachers we work in a system that relies heavily on threats and rewards. This is not necessarily the ideal way to motivate students, nether-the-less when it comes to classroom management sometimes you need to give up your ideals and go with whatever works!
Now I’m not saying that we become lazy and we lose the passion to experiment and take risks – rather that you have a core set of strategies that you know will work and you can always fall back on them.
The reason that threats and rewards (both forms of extrinsic motivation) work is because every person is motivated to either make a gain or avoid a pain.
When it comes to classroom management sometimes you need to give up your ideals and go with whatever works!
So what works best…threats or rewards?
Yesterday I had the honour of speaking to the staff of Guildford Primary School and Auburn North Primary School. Speaking at staff development days can be a daunting task, there are always those who love what you have to say and those who were wishing they could be somewhere else…anywhere else! I love the challenge of engaging teachers from all different cultures, life experiences and career experience.
In 2010 the NSW Department of Education gave schools 2 extra staff development days at the end of the year. In the school that I am a teacher we conducted our two extra days during the course of the year which was beneficial as we were in the flow of the school year, and addressing issues that we were facing at that time.
Having had the opportunity to speak at schools all year round as well as the last couple of days of the school year I would advise principals who are looking to maximise their staff development time to try and hold the extra days either on a Saturday or a public holiday throughout the year. Having said that it might be a tough road to convince the teachers to give up their weekend!
If you are going to conduct a staff development day at the end of the year [Read more…] about Are staff development days at the end of the year a good idea?
In the last post we looked at the stick approach to student motivation and engagement. Today we will look at the carrot approach.
Some people will tell you that it is far better to set up an encouraging environment. It is better to praise the student. Every teacher uses a reward system. This could be in the form of a sticker chart, video lesson, outside play etc
These work well but the research has shown that if you teach a student to respond to rewards their intrinsic motivation decreases over time because you have taught them to be interested in the reward not the learning task. A classic example of this is when you reward a student for reading 4 books, the student will read the 4 books but not pick up the 5th when there is no reward for doing so.
When considering rewarding a student it is best to give rewards for effort not intelligence
In the last post we looked at the fact that mans greatest motivator is to make a gain or avoid a pain.
When you look at this is the context of teaching, it forms a basis of everything we do. Much of the way we do discipline and encourage compliance is through the means of threats and rewards otherwise known as the carrot and the stick model.
Teachers used to literally have a stick in the class room – there are still a few teachers around who speak fondly of those days!
Today we don’t use the stick in a literal sense, but nether-the-less we still use the stick in other ways.
There are many theories and arguments around what motivates us, and in fact when it comes to education and teaching the arguments seem to become more complex (I challenge any person to take a room of 30 or so hormonal teenagers and apply a simple theory to what motivates them!)
When you strip motivation back to its irreducible minimum people are motivated to avoid a pain or make a gain.
That being said, one of the things that I love to do is to take concepts, in this case motivation and see if I can take it right back to an irreducible minimum.
When you take the many facets of motivation and strip them right back I believe that the one fundamental driver of motivation – that is to make a gain or avoid a pain.
Once we understand this fundamental aspect of motivation we can then build all our strategies around it.
In the next post we will look at how this applies to our students
After a lot of thought I have decided to jump into the blogging world…I wanted to make sure that this wasn’t going to be just another thing to cram into my already over busy life. But eventually the frustration of the lack of decent and relevant content on the net has convinced me to do something to change that. (If you know of any great blogs that provide consistently great content please let me know)
I have read countless articles and blogs on various topics relating to teaching, classroom management, student motivation, communicating with the next generation (generation Y, and generation Z), lots on student engagement in the 21st centaury…the problem a lot of what is out there is written by beginning teachers who are writing as part of their reflection, or people who have not been in the classroom for years and are therefore not really able to speak into the daily struggles of a teacher.