Bob Sullo

Consultant K - 12

Sandwich, MA


  • Posted 8 Years ago
  • 1.3k

The Motivated Student: Archived Chat 5-20

The Motivated Student Chat, Part V

bob: Hi, everyone. Lots to discuss tonight, including how we can keep things going and

 tell our colleagues about internal motivation and how to engage kids to be successful in


Steve G.: hi Bob

Nat: Good evening everyone

bob: Most people think that we act ant THEN we feel...or we feel and THEN we act.

 This is about how the components work together.

Steve G.: It seems like a lot of this is related to brain research, no? That kids who know

 something about their brains are better able to control their feelings?

bob: absolutely. i'd just add that it applies equally to adults.

bob: most adults think their feelings "happen" to them. they'll say things like "i can't

 choose how to feel but i can choose how to act."

bob: in truth, we have much more control over how we feel as well as our physiology

 than people believe.

Steve G.: I think the question I had with the chapter and the area was how do you

 find time -- to go through this self-reflective exercise?

Steve G.: There's hardly any time in the day.

bob: it gets into the whole area of responsibility. most of us don't want to be

 responsible for our anger or any other uncomfortable emotional state, but the

 concept of total behavior informs us that we have considerable control

bob: help me, steve. what part seems time-intensive to you? doing the total behavior

 chart with students?

Steve G.: Yes, I mean between the standards we have to teach to, it seems like I'm

 always struggling to find "time"

bob: i think it gets into how we "invest" time, spending it on this exercise i believe will

 both buy you time and lead to greater achievement.

Nat: Can this be an activity done with the students, making them apart of it all?

Steve G.: You're right. Better to start thinking of this as one thing, rather than

 separate. Sorry

bob: the other thing your comment brings up, steve, relates to the topic of the next

 chapter. i think we spread ourselves too thin with such a broad curriculum. it leads to

 the exact comment you made: where's the time???

Nat: focusing on power standards, indicators - whatever you want to call them - we

 need to identify the essential standards, the others fall within the essential


Steve G.: The big word at our school is always capacity.

bob: yes, nat. in fact, in chapter 12 i have the scenario of an elementary teacher

 doing this with a class. it doesn't need to take more then 10-15 minutes and sets the

 foundation for a successful unit.

Nat: That is exactly how we function in my district - from my personal experience it

 has definately lightened the load

bob: i think it's "essential to identify what's essential"!

Nat: It gives you a focus, a goal to work towards with your students

bob: i'm not trying to be negative, but most of the content we teach kids is not

 crucial! much of what we teach will be outdated in just a few years...but...the

 process of how we learn and certain facts, content are all essential.

bob: and by "lighening the load," you'll provide time for your kids to reflect, process,

 make meaning and deepen their learning.

Nat: I agree, when we identified power standards for 8th grade social studies we

 found that really there were less than 15 essential standards, the rest were

 extensions of the 15

bob: too much of what we do is done on a surface level because as steve says

 "where's the time." by narrowing what we teach, we can teach deeply.

Nat: As Larry Ainsworth told me, think of it as a fence the post are the essential

 (power standards) and the rungs are the other standards. go deeper not wider.

Steve G.: When we talk about narrowing of curriculum, do you find it's best done

 within small committees who write it and agree? Is it a go-it-alone thing?

Marcy: I would just like to add while you are talking about K-12 - I have student

 interns who are struggling with feeling powerless and it is not just about Standards

Nat: Absolutely - it was time consuming at first, but now in our 3rd year it is definately

 less work

bob: hi marcy!

bob: steve, i think it needs to be done in a collaborative way. what do others think?

bob: how did you do it in your school nat?

Marcy: Hi, Bob.  I think i am following this but it is still driving me crazy. I types up

 answers to yiour question because I thought I might be able to cut and paste - NOT

Nat: we incorporated it as a distrct through our data team process

bob: and who was involved? teachers?

bob: i guess i have difficulty with things "imposed" from above, even if they are good!

 involving teachers in a meaningful way leads to more ownership.

Steve G.: So content-specific specialists in each subject area?

Marcy: Nat, how big is your district and how do you know what you have dopne is


bob: nat, can you offer a synopsis of the process so others can get a feel for it?

Nat: yes by grade level dept

Marcy: How do you know what you are doing is making a difference?

Carolyn, ASCD Moderator: @Guests, you can change your nickname by clicking 'edit

 nickname" in the lower left corner of the chat window.

Nat: You look for what is a standard has longevity, needed for the next grade level,

 and what was needed past high school

Steve G.: And has everyone agreed that narrowing is better? I tend to think it is, but

 also know people think we should cover everything!

bob: great question, marcy. and not as "simple" as it seems. scores going up is good

 data. but...teachers feeling more involved and valued and staff morale improving

 may be as important.

Marcy: Yes, that is what i was wonderinh - How are they collecting that information?

Nat: Teachers need to use the data to help them guide how they teach and develop

 their instruction around what they are learning about their students

bob: steve, are these people comfortable with sacrificing depth in an effort to offer a

 wider curriculum? (There may be times when i agree, by the way. there's nothing

 wrong with survey courses.)

bob: so nat, is the instruction in your district really data driven? if so, it sounds


Marcy: NAT, if you have time to respond, in what ways are the teachers collecting

 data? Portfolios?

Steve G.: Yeah, I think covering "more" of something, say, the details of the

 American revolution, is always looked at more favorably.

Nat: yes at least for my data team - I can't speak for all - it is the goal for all

bob: and, nat, what about marcy's question? how is data collected. operating on data

 sounds great but it needs to be valid, useful data or it's a house of cards.

Nat: forative assessment, pre/post, things like that

Marcy: I am not asking any more questions of poor  Nat!

Nat: I meant formative sorry

bob: i'm loving this! this is what i wanted: people sharing what they have tried, etc...

 thanks nat!

Marcy: Do students complete a performance assessment (as in UbD?

Nat: yes they do

Marcy: Do you look at then across your grade level team?

Nat: we are a dept, we are not in teams

Marcy: OK. I missed that - waht is your dept?

Nat: 8th grade social studies

bob: nat, i'm curious. clearly you are enthusiastic about this. it represents a new way

 of conceptualizing teaching. are your colleagues equally enthusiastic?

Nat: honestly not really, but I spent a year studying data teams and this process for

 my dissertation...and brought my team to exemplary status

bob: see, the people in this chat represent a minority. my goal is to discover ways to

 help others become equally engaged, enthusiastic, and willing to try new things to

 benefit kids.

bob: this is really interesting, nat. i'm "hearing" you say that you were able to achieve

 real success even without complete enthusiasm/support.

Nat: a few teams with my help are moving in that direction

bob: i'm convinced that once people see success, they are more willing to get

 involved. it's getting the momentum going that's the key component.

Nat: yes my team has a well at least 1 in every building in our district. It is a slow

 process usually takes 5 years to really see the benefit of data, powerstandards, and


bob: any other comments about "teaching less...teaching deeply" before we move


Nat: Definately Bob, I have many request to sit in and help other teams move

 towards what my colleagues and I have discovered - we have taken it to extremes

 we team teach all 90 of our students 3 to 4 times a week

bob: the other issue i'd like to chat about relates to the final chapter of "The

 Motivated Student." creating your own professional identity.

bob: congratulations on your success nat! stories like these are very helpful for me to


Nat: I love to tell them, good and bad

bob: so here's the "heavy" part of the discussion. the philosophical part. what exactly

 do you want from yourself as an educator?

Steve G.: I'd like to know I'm making a difference.

Steve G.: Sometimes I wonder

Nat: me too

bob: i was reading an article today that suggested adults work primarily for money. i

 think we work to satisfy other making a difference.

Nat: I believe we are steve, we just don't always see it right away

Nat: I agree Bob, i changed careers to go into education - I was making more money

 in business but I wasn't happy - something was missing

bob: i have a great story about how we are sometimes clueless about the difference

 we make. it's from my book "The Inspiring Teacher." I'll put it on the "Inspiring

 Student Motivation" wall later tonight or tomorrow.

Steve G.: Yes, I was going to say, I don't make enough money to be moved by it. ;-)

bob: i think all teachers want to make a difference. do you agree?

bob: as steve says, we don't make enough to be doing it solely for the money.

Nat: yes, but sometimes they loose sight of it due to life.

Steve G.: I know some people who do it frankly, because they didn't what else to do.

 Sorry to say that. Know it's not PC

Carolyn, ASCD Moderator: @Sarah, Guests, what say you?

bob: so here's the question: how do we keep ourselves focused on how important our

 jobs really are? how do we not get stuck in the "how do I survive 6th period?"


Steve G.: Maybe it's bad, but I try to focus on that one child that I can move at a


Steve G.: If I can help one kid at a time learn something a little more.

bob: steve, i'd love to disagree with you, but i suspect you are right. but even those

 teachers still want to feel good about themselves. as dan pink says in "Drive," we all

 seek a sense of purpose. (I relate it to the need for power/competence.)

Steve G.: Don't get me wrong. I teach the whole class.

Nat: We celebrate the little things, the kid who moved from an F to a D, stuff like that

Steve G.: Exactly nat.

Nat: We had a round of applauce today for the student who finally passed a test this


bob: are there other areas that are important to you all, separate from academic


Marcy: I have been teaching a long time and iI think that our successes go beyond

 'academic achievement.

Steve G.: I think I also tend to learn new things each year. Because I go back and

 don't do the same thing every year

Nat: Learning - I love to learn new ways to teach and then try them out on my

 students, get their feelings and either keep or toss it depending on the overall


bob: i do a number of parent workshops and i'm the parent of three. i wanted my kids

 to be successful in school but academic success was never the most important thing

 for me.

Steve G.: At the end of the day, we really don't do enough to teach kids how to be

 citizens. That's important too

bob: all of your comments support my belief that we are internally motivated. you

 could take out the same lessons from last year. but we are driven to create, to

 improve what's already good.

Marcy: In my life as at teacher, I cherish the times when my students have said  _ i

 want to be atecaher like you.

bob: as an educator, i was always more concerned about helping children learn to be

 good people (with a good education) - than in just getting the highest test score.

Nat: Marcy I enjoy when they come back to me and thank me for not letting them

 slack or get away with not working...they tend to appreciate my style after the fact

bob: as i said to my own kids on numerous occasions, "When i was dating your

 mother, i never once asked to see her transcript."

Steve G.: It's like sports. Teach them how to win, fine. But teach them

 sportsmanship. that's more important

Marcy: What keeps me teaching?  It is not the test scores (but I am in Canada)

Steve G.: It has to be better than the U.S. Marcy!

bob: nat, your "after the fact" comment is so important. it's naive to think that kids

 will necessarily have the capacity (that word again, steve!) to see the value of what

 you are doing at that moment.

Marcy: Nat, yes. I love when they come back to visit. in fact my own child siad the

 same thing to me about 'not letting her slack off''

Nat: test scores only provide me with data that helps me guide my instruction to

 assure my students are getting the best education possible

Marcy: Steve, yes it is - i have taught in both worlds!

Nat: as well as the areas they might need more instruction on

bob: so "the best education possible" can't be neatly encapsulated in a test score!

 that's why i am such an advocate for the ASCD whole child initiative.

Marcy: Nat, yes. I use scores, but they do not 'drive' my teaching - maybe guide it


bob: it's crucial to understand that academics are the foundation. but we're helping to

 build a whole child and i want to go well beyond the foundation

Steve G.: Bob, I'm curious, when you were an administrator, what was the biggest

 challenge facing the school?

Nat: I agree Bob

Steve G.: I guess, what was the situation etc.

Marcy: I also love the Whole Child initiative - you can't learn much when you are

 hungry and scared.  School does offer shelter

bob: i think our school/district was too complacent. we weren't "bad." but i never felt

 a sense of urgency in getting a whole lot better.

Steve G.: Was it a poor neighborhood, etc.? Suburb?

bob: it's why i love doing what i do now: staff development. my identified role is to

 bring these ideas up for discussion and help teachers/schools move forward and

 become better than we are.

Steve G.: How do you get a school to get that drive to be better when things what

 one my colleagues called "good enough"?

bob: i worked in plymouth, masss (home of the pilgrims) for my whole career.

bob: i think it's like what nat has done. start slowly. have some success with a small

 group. let the momentum build. and be patient because things of value take time and

 are worth pursuing.

Steve G.: I know we talked about this before but about getting people on board for

 change. That seems the toughest part.

Nat: They do change, I am currently working with 3 other teams in my building, I have

 helped our science teams identify their power standards, and I am a trainer for

 identifying power standards an creating formative assessments for my district

bob: I hope those who participated in this chat will keep things going. Any interest in

 starting a book study in your school?  Other ideas to help our colleagues learn?

bob: Iím planning on getting a blog up and running soon. If you get me your e-mail

 info, Iíll be certain to let you know when I get it started. You can contact me through

 my website:

Nat: Steve it is, I will not lie to you and there are days when I just want to throw in

 the towel, then I look at my students and see what my colleagues and I have done

 and I am back in business

Steve G.: I'm definitely going to reach out to colleagues to discuss some of this stuff

 for sure

bob: I also wanted to let you know that I have a FREE quarterly newsletter. Next one

 due in June. Contact me at and ask to be put on the mailing

 list. You can then print & share articles. Together we can make a difference!

Nat: I already share with my colleagues - many just blow me off - they think I am

 crazy to still be teaching in a middle school after getting my Ed. D degree this past


bob: it's so easy to get discouraged. that's why i think it's important to support each

 other and find others who agree with what we have been talking about.

Marcy: Now, Nat, just don't listen to them. I love coaching in middle school - they are

 crazy but wonderful!

Steve G.: Marcy, i have a question for you. Do you find teachers are more valued in

 Canada than here?

Steve G.: in the U.S., I mean.

Steve G.: I don't know if you're in Candada

Marcy: Yes.

bob: i've read before that teachers reflect the developmental level of the kids they

 teach. so ms teachers are like ms kids!

bob: yes, what? marcy. more valued in canada???

Nat: I agree for many of my colleagues - for myself I am that geek in the corner.

Marcy: To clarify - My husband and I  immigrated to Canada - iIam teaching here both

 at the university and coaching in schools - (writing)

Steve G.: I read a story the other day about a chinese teacher here in the U.S. She

 talked about how the Chinese value teachers more.

bob: sure, but the geek inthe corner is often interesting. a bit scary because he's

 different. so we'll pretend to dismiss him. but privately, he gets us thinking.

Steve G.: But once taught in Asia a long time ago.

Nat: Bob I hope so.

Steve G.: And the truth is,they pay lip service to it, but it's not really respect. The

 kids still mock the teacher etc.

Steve G.: Parents still curse them out.

Marcy: This is such a funny conversation - never having done this bvefore and as a

 writing teacher, I think it is funny how our conversations weave back and forth.

Nat: I have never had a parent curse me out, I don't know how I woudl handle that

bob: i wonder if teachers in the US feel less valued because of the "grass is always

 greener" thing. or is it cultural in the fact that americans are very comfortable

 expressing displeasure. other cultures are less likely to do that.

Marcy: good poin t Bob

Nat: Bob, I think you have a point, isn't human nature to think that it is better

 somewhere else

Steve G.: Yeah, Nat, I've seen it.

bob: don't know if it's "human nature" or "human nurture" but it's pretty common.

Steve G.: Of course, I've seen it here too.

Marcy: Nat, yes, but culture are different in Canada - people do have a high respect

 for teachers

bob: my daughter lives in australia. her boyfriend is a high school history teacher. he

 can complain about the lack of respect he sometimes feels. so i think it crosses


Nat: Well everyone I have to go, I have definately enjoyed chatting and hope to

 correspond with all of you again. Take care.

Steve G.: Bye Nat

bob: this reminds me of a quote i have from "Activating the Desire to Learn." In fact i

 think i put it on my website this morning....

Marcy: I teach in a rural area. all I am saying is may be  cultural too

Steve G.: Marcy, honestly, I was just curious.

bob: it's about deciding to be a respectful person because that's who you want to be,

 rather than being respectful to those who "deserve" it or "earn" it...

bob: take care nat. thanks for your thoughtful comments!

bob: it's so easy to choose anger and frustration if we are not respected. i decided a

 long timer ago that i will act the ay i want to be regardless of how i am treated. it

 keeps me from being a victim.

bob: Thanks to Carolyn and Tim at ASCD for all the time and effort they put into this

 and for giving us an opportunity to share and discuss how to engage and inspire

 student motivation. Without their support, this wouldnít have been possible. Thanks

Tim: Great job Bob. Thanks for joining eeryone.

Marcy: I am going to dinner, Bob and colleagues. it was fun rambling with you.

bob: good night everyone and thanks again for all of your comments and

 participation. I've enjoyed it!

Carolyn, ASCD Moderator: Thanks to everyone who followed the chat every week!

Steve G.: Bye Marcy

Steve G.: thanks Bob

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