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
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
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
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...
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
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 needs....like 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
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
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: internalmotivation.net
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
bob: I also wanted to let you know that I have a FREE quarterly newsletter. Next one
due in June. Contact me at internalmotivation.net 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
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
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
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