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Education Week just published an article today that I found frightening: “Response to Intervention for Tots.” It’s not simply the content that’s scary – more about that in a moment. It’s the fact that the following highly respected organizations are collaborating on a joint position statement: The National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division of Early Childhood, and the National Head Start Association. These three prestigious organizations are contemplating bring response to intervention to preschoolers!
“Response to Intervention.” Talk about “blaming the victim.” If a child doesn’t neatly fit into the cookie-cutter mold, he/she is provided with an “intervention” so the child can perform at the “expected” level – where he/she “should” be.
Hey, here’s a thought. Maybe kids develop at different rates and have different predilections/interests. Maybe there’s something flawed about the whole notion that kids “should” be at a particular place simply because of their grade/age. Maybe the kids don’t need an “intervention.”
Maybe the system needs an intervention and would be more successful if they implemented differentiated instruction and respected children as individuals rather than “expecting” everyone to perform specific tasks at specific times.
Does anyone else find this trend unsettling???
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
Carolyn, ASCD Moderator: Welcome to the chat! You can change your name by clicking
"edit nickname" in the lower-left corner of the chat window.
bob: Hey, everyone! Hope you are ready to discuss how to make classrooms
Steve G.: Hi bob
Nat: hello everyone
bob: In all the workshops I do, teachers tell me there are more problems (disruption,
etc) in the afternoon. Is that true for you?
Steve G.: Yes, definitely true for me.
Steve G.: Kids are tired at the end of the day.
Nat: definately, we have 6 periods a day and 5th and 6th hours tend to always be my
most challenging classes
bob: My hypothesis is that we don't intentionally address kids' emotional needs so run
into trouble later inthe day. Your thoughts???
Nat: I can honestly say I really never thought about my students emotional needs
bob: I worked in schools where we rotated schedules so we had different students
each day at the end of the day. Weird way to "solve" the problem.
Nat: That would be hard to do in a middle school or high school setting
Steve G.: I actually think it has to do with a number of factors.
bob: ThanksNat for your honesty. You (like most teachers) are so inundated with the
things you need to do, it's easy to forget the kids' emotional needs.
Donna: I've used activities from the SPARK program to reenergize my
Nat: Steve my classes are much bigger in the afternoon, you might have a point
bob: Welcome, Donna. Can you elaborate? Sounds interesting.
Steve G.: I'm just thinking after lunch. The brain is tired and doesn't process as much.
Think of the workday. We're kinda like that too.
bob: Nat, the scheduling is easy in middle school and HS. Just begin with period 2 or
3 or 4. etc...
Nat: Donna what is your subject area
Donna: I am now an educational consultant for an IU in PA, but as a classroom
teacher, this program (anagram SPARK...google it) used physical educational
activities to reenergize students.....worked well.
Nat: I guess that would work, but we have found that a change in schedule really
throws are students off
Donna: Also sixth grade
Nat: I will google in, thanks
bob: Donna's idea of building in physical activity/movement is certainly very
Donna: We were on ABC news....it is a nationally recognized program....we had a
bob: I run into the same issue in the staff development sessions I do. Teachers are
pretty "brain-dead" right after lunch and I need to incorporate movement/activity or
things go south quickly.
Steve G.: Yeah, I'll definitely look that up too. Thanks Donna.
Donna: Yes....I still have to deal with these issues with adult learners....most PD for
teachers occurs after school....3 pm....the brain wants to take a nap!
bob: Donna, can you give a brief synopsis
Donna: I wish I was better prepared to....it's been three years now since I've been in
the classroom....let me get some info and I will post more on here in a minute.
bob: I identify the needs for connecting, freedom, and fun as ones that can easily be
overlooked. What are some things you do to address these need areas (or...do you
even see these as need areas?)
Steve G.: Bob, I have to say I thought the matrix you had was helpful in terms of
whether or not an activity satisfied student needs? But my question is: what if my
definition of fun, doesnít really match thereís? Iím in the same place, no?
bob: Donna, don't trouble yourself now. If you can post something on the Inspiring
Student Motivation page in the next couple of days, that would be awesome...just
the thing I'm hoping to have take place.
bob: Yes, Steve. You are in "the same place" (and it ain't a real cpmfortable one!) The
key is to develop a shared perception. So...
Steve G.: I mean, I could think something is fun, but really it's hard to tell sometimes,
even with planning.
bob: I suggest beginning with what you "think" will be fun, etc...If it works, fine...If it
doesn't you need to identify where the mismatch is. Invite the kids to help you
determine what is both fun and task-oriented (Both/And as opposed to either Or)
bob: Yes, it's hard to tell. But the burden is not yours alone. The students are part of
the class and have a part in determining how things go. We should not have to be
able to read minds!
Steve G.: That makes sense. Sometimes, though, you're so pressed for time, it's hard
to involve kids.
Steve G.: I'll try it Nat (and Bob). Thanks!
Nat: I use exit slips to ask how it went, what could be done to make it better, etc.
bob: That's why I dedicate a chapter to builing positive relationships (last weeks'
topic). It's OK (in fact, respectful) to invite the kids into the process.
Donna: I will...here is a link to the program. http://www.sparkpe.org/what-is-spark/
Nat: I have found they feel empowered especially when they present something you
didn't even think about that really does make it more fun and interesting
Nat: I think by having them reflect on the lesson (activity) it teaches them to
self-evaluate as well.
bob: Thanks, Donna. If you think of it, will you post it on the Inspiring Student
Motivation wall as well. (We have over 90 members and most aren't able to be part
of these weekly chats. They will find the info useful)
Donna: I will, for sure!
bob: Yes, Nat. I think that's another thing that's easy to skip: reflection. It's so crucial
for kids to reflect in order to truly internalize learning.
bob: And as you say, as they reflect, they are likely to self-evaluate, especially if you
include questions/prompts that invite conscious self-evaluation
Nat: We try, after reading this book we are more aware of the questions we are
asking as well
bob: What are some of the things you do (did) to help kids satify the need for
freedom in your classes?
Donna: Provide choices.....
Steve G.: I hadnít thought about giving the students ìchoiceî as you mention in
answering ìcertainî questions. I thought that was a very good idea.
bob: Teachers who don't know anything about internal control psychology sometimes
confuse "freedom" with letting the kids take over the class.
bob: Say more Steve. I'm not sure what you are referencing.
Steve G.: You mentioned in the book there were certain questions students could
answer that were more mandatory.
Steve G.: But others could be labeled as more optional.
Steve G.: I always looked at it the traditional way: you get the homework, answer
bob: Right. Giving kids choice doesn't mean you sacrifice your position of
authority/leadership in the class.
Steve G.: Like I said, I never thought of it that way, but it makes sense.
bob: So you may give a quiz and require students to answer the first three questions
(essential info) but let them choose any three of the remaining 7 questions. Giving
choice but maintaining academic integrity.
bob: Do you find, Steve, after reading the book, that you are doing that more
Steve G.: Well, I actually am still in the process of finishing it, yes. But it's definitely
going to affect my appraoch
bob: And are you intenionally (and regularly) planning with the needs in mind? I think
this process is very powerful but most teachers avoid doing it on a regular basis.
Steve G.: I think the key piece is figuring out what those needs are.
Nat: Steve i agree
Steve G.: For example, maybe two-thirds of the kids liek group work. But the other
third hate it.
Steve G.: etc.
bob: Sure. But remember, not every activity needs to be need-satisfying for
everybody. You're looking at the totality, not any one activity.
Steve G.: (Apologies for the spelling this evening)
bob: I have a template for Planning With the Needs in Mind. Anyone who wants it just
needs to send me an e-mauil and I'll get it to you. (can't give you my e-mail here.
system won't allow it)
Nat: thanks Bob expect an email soon
bob: regarding spelling...I've got to the point where i don't even look! i just type and
hope it's close!
Donna: Where do we find your email then?
bob: let's eee. you could google my name....website in www.internalmotivation.net
Carolyn, ASCD Moderator: You can also send a message to Bob through EDge.
bob: that works! there's a "contact" page with my e-mail! if you send me something,
put "Motivated Student" in the subject line. If it goes to spam, I'll find it and get back
Donna: Bob.....what do you think of using Universal Design for Learning principles in
bob: Thanks, Carolyn. (You know my tech skills are way limited!0
bob: Donna...can you be more specific? (I may not be familiar with the terminology)
Donna: Universal Design for learning is being proactive about your lesson planning
Donna: Thinking of the needs of all your students up front
Donna: so there is no need to make accomodations or modifications for students
bob: Guess I'm advocating the same thing using different terminolgy when I talk
about planning with the needs in mind."
Donna: Providing multiple means of engagement is one of its principles
bob: i'm not sure about that last part, the accommodation or modification piece.
Nat: Bob I think academic needs and emotional needs are similar but different as well
and both have to be addressed in planning. I know my colleague and I were focused
on academic and really never thought of the emotional needs
Donna: Traditional lesson planning has the teacher designing lessons, then thinking up
ways to accomodate for students with learning disabilities and such
Nat: I think the accomodations and modifications are part of the academic needs more
than the emotional needs, but I could be wrong
bob: i think it's crucial to include multiple means of engagement. it gets bact to what
steve said about some kids being engaged by grop work. others arean't. all related
to differentiating within a structure.
Donna: Universal Design for Learning comes out of the realm of architecture.....
Donna: Curb cuts, for example, were originally designed to allow access for people
Donna: They have come to realize that curb cuts benefit everyone....elderly,
mothers with young children, baby carriages, etc.
bob: Nat, i think that morifications/accommodations are just as "necessary" in the
emotional realm as in the curricular realm. In "Activating the Desire to Learn," I have
chapter that focuses on that....
Nat: I have read that book, I will have to revisit that section.
bob: you have probably all had classes (as well as students) who were especially
driven by a particular emotional need (belonging, freedom, power, fun) that can help
you plan more effectively.
bob: it's the chapter with the high school english teacher. (can't remember the name!)
Steve G.: Bob and everyone, do you think there is a particular strategy to use with
students from urban areas?
bob: So Donna, are you saying that just as we discovered that things like curb cuts
help lots of people, some of the "accommodations" we make in classes help many
more than just the "targeted audience"?
Nat: I just happen to have the book out, it appears to be chapter 11
Steve G.: Are their emotional needs different?
Donna: Absolutely.....think of graphic organizers
Donna: Originally used just with spec ed students....smaller chunks of
information....but they have come to realize they benefit all students
bob: Steve...the needs aren't different. But...the life experience of kids from
different environments has a huge impact.
bob: Thanks, Donna, for the info. Great stuff!
Steve G.: I guess when we're talking about freedom, power and fun, the definition, it
seems to me would differ.
Steve G.: I agree there's an absolute.
Donna: Universal Design for Learning is being written presently into major educational
bob: So Steve, I worked with a school in the heart of Baltimore for a couple of years.
very poor. lots of violence inthe neighborhood, etc... the "needs" of those kids are
the same. but they may not have the same behaviors to meet those needs the way
Steve G.: Just curious, can you tell us a little more about your approach to the
school. To motivate the kids?
bob: OK. WE're getting into good stuff here. there are differences in the pictures
peope develop to meet their needs, but the needs are universal.
bob: Being very picky here, steve. (hope that's OK after 4 weeks!) i don't try to
"motivate" the kids. they are already motivated. we tried to structure the
classes/school, so kids would be motivated to learn.
Steve G.: I know what you mean, Bob. But can you tell us more about the structure?
bob: I'm stuck steve. "Structure" meaning????
Steve G.: Structure the classes, you mentioned
Steve G.: what did you do differently?
bob: the teachers switch from reward/punishment to internal control psychology...
Nat: That is what I want to see happen in my building
bob: they intentionall did the "††††††††††††††lanning with the neeeds in mind." they created
lessons where the kids could meet their needs by doing what the teachers asked.
bob: the first thing that happened.....discipline problems dropped dramatically. (no
need to disrupt when I can get what I need by doing my work)..
Steve G.: Just curious, did you get the total buy in from everyone? Principal, super.
Donna: Many of the school districts in my regional territory (13) are implementing
SWPBS. (School-wide Positive Behavior Support)
bob: yes, we had total buy-in because it was/is a charter school.
Nat: What is that Donna
Nat: Is it like PBIS?
Donna: Just what Bob is talking about.....taking the focus away from negative
behaviors and rewarding positive ones....it's huge
Nat: Because I am not a fan of PBIS (which is what they are using in my school)
Nat: rewarding how?
bob: even though i worked my whole career in "regular" public education, charter
schools are great for me as a consultant because it's easile to implement significant
Nat: Because if it is external then it is very much like PBIS and I think it is actually
doing more harm then good in my building. discipline problems are getting worse and
bullyng is more evident
bob: Yeah, Donna, you're new to our group and I have been less than enthusiastic
about PBIS. I prefer to have kids se;f-evaluate that to externaly reward.
bob: getting back to the school in baltimore. discipline problems diminished but it took
awhile for academic achievement to increase....
bob: it has been a process. the problems go away first. then there is a "settling in"
period where kids don't disrupt much, but don't do a whole lot of work.
bob: then you can help them self-evaluate and determine who they want to be and
the academic engagement starts to come...
Steve G.: all, do any of you have advice for trying to push for these types of
changes in a public school? Where would you start?
Steve G.: Particularly if you don't have the buy-in to start with
bob: lots of places to start, steve. it depends upon what you want and your level of
bob: you can certainly implement these ideas in your classroom and be somewhat
isolated. the "††††††††††††††roblem" is that it can be very isolated and frustraing.
Steve G.: I just think I'm approaching a kind of wall with administrators. Particularly
with money issues etc.
Donna: Through observing teachers, I think one place to start and is sorely lacking is
providing students with feedback about their progress is vital.
bob: ideally, you have enough colleagues that you don't feel isolated.....and most
ideally you have administrative leadership..
Nat: Steve the great thing about this is it is free
Steve G.: Yeah, I think you are right though that change happens when everyone
Donna: formative assessment......show kids the "targets" to shoot for...how close
are they, etc.
Steve G.: Yes, Nat, I can definitely do this in my class at least.
Nat: In my buildign I will have to show hard data - before I can get them to jump on
bob: donna, you use a work i especially like: feedback. (I distingui***** from
costructive criticism) feedback is essential for effective self-evaluation and growth.
Donna: If kids don't know what they know and what they don't know....how can they
be motivated to learn?
Donna: They need descriptive feedback
bob: i can't remember if it has come up in this group, but a book i just read is "Drive"
by Dan Pink. Lots of hard data. Most is non-educational but quite a lot from the world
of education....there's a lot of hard evidence out there.
bob: also...what kind of data are people looking for? want short-term results?
rewards/punishments are the way to go! want long-term results? check the research
Nat: I like to have student teacher conferences and review verbally with my students
so my feedback can be heard and questions can be addressed immediately it seems
to help keep my students focused on improving
Donna: Sounds great, Nat
bob: what other strategies do you all use to help kids self-evaluate? (I just realized
Nat: I am working on trying to come up with ways to have my students self-evaluate.
I hope to incorporate self-evalation next year.
bob: i think we do way too much external evaluation and don't invite kids to take
responsibility by evaluating their own work.
Steve G.: Honestly, Bob, until this conversation, I've never thought about having kids
really truly self evaulate unless it's thinking about channeling strengths or improving
bob: can you give it a trial run as this year winds down?
Donna: Bye, Nat
Steve G.: bye Nat
bob: thanks, nat. hope to see you next week: our last chat
Steve G.: Yes, definitely
Donna: Couldn't the use of checklists and rubrics aid in self-evaluation?
bob: wow, steve! it's moments like this that make this so enjoyable. you are clearly an
engaged, committed teacher. And you've never really been asked to think about it.
this is exciting!
bob: rubrics and examplrs and models are all hugely important. if you want me to
self-evaluate, i need a model of quality. othwerise, i'm shooting in the dark.
Steve G.: I think like everybody Bob. I feel a bit overwhelmed but am trying
Sarah: I have a hard enough time evaluating myself! How do I expect this from my
students when it's something that I have a hard time with?
bob: hi, sarah. i don't think it's any harder for the students than for you. plus...it's a
huge enough responsibility to evaluate yourself! why should teachers take on the
total burden of evaluating up to 150 students! share the burden.
Donna: In Pennsylvania, in regards to our PSSA tests, we have item samplers from
past test showing examples ranging from great to unscorable....teachers use them
bob: actually, i wish i hadn't used the word "burden." self-evaluation is not a
"burden." it's a process that lets me take more conscious responsibility for who i want
o be. it's a very positive thing.
Donna: Forming Professional Learning Communities and reviewing student work will
help to ease the "burden" of evaluating student work
bob: yes, donna, we have the same thing in massachusetts. those can be very
helpful to kids so they have a shared perception of what quality looks like.
bob: i want to thank everyone for your comments....
Steve G.: Thanks Bob. Learned a lot.
Donna: Thanks, Bob
Donna: and all
bob: please remember that you can post comments and questions on the inspiring
student motivation wall during the week. i wan this to be a place for rich sharing.
Carolyn, ASCD Moderator: And be sure to tune in next week (5/20) for our last chat
Donna: Will do
Donna: Good night
bob: next week we will discuss the final three chapters of "The Motivated Student"
Have a great week!
Steve G.: Good night all
Carolyn, ASCD Moderator: Welcome everyone. Bob should be here shortly
bob: Good evening, everyone
Steve G.: Hi Bob
bob: here's the thing: eveyone wants a "good relationship" with kids. Questions: are
good relationships "necessary" or just "nice"
bob: and....how do YOU define a good relationship.
Steve G.: I guess I had a question...
Steve G.: You talk about the surprise when that teacher didn't say she "liked" the
Steve G.: I guess my question would be do you have to "like" your students in order
to teach them?
Nat: I do not think you have to like all your students, I think you have to learn to
understand them and appreciate them for who they are
bob: i'm turning the tables on you, steve. do you think you need to like kids to teach
Steve G.: And what I mean by that -- sometimes at least I think, in order to teach
kids, it's not about liking them so much as wanting the best for them.
guest903353: I agree
Steve G.: And helping them see a way, if they aren't so great as people, to get
guest903353: bob it's me shelley....still only here as a guest but i guess this is better
than last week
bob: is "wanting the best for them" part of "liking them"? or are those two concepts
bob: welcome, shelley! you can change the nickname at the bottom if you want.
shelley: it worked!
Nat: I think they are connected to a point, what I mean is even if a student which I
know I have had is not the most likeable, I still want to do what I can to help him/her
develop into productive members of society
bob: i think there's a subtle but important difference between "liking kids" and always
"liking" what they are doing.!
Nat: I agree
bob: the teacher I refer to in ch 7 simply didn't seem to like kids much. period. it
wasn't just that she sometimes found them annoying (that's true for most of us
bob: her thing was a deeper "disconnect"
bob: so switching it to that more general "liking kids"....is that essential?
bob: i believe it's essentail and say as much on p. 74
bob: it doesn't mean you'll become a great teacher, but if you are in love with your
subject but don't like kids, i think you're doomed to a ceiling of mediocity. what do
you all think?
shelley: I think what is essentiial is that you do that best that you can to teach and
reach every kid......regardless if you truly like them or not
Steve G.: I think you are right on the one hand in terms of the way the teacher was
inconsistent in her behavior -- she liked the kids when they behaved.
Steve G.: I think she had to be more even.
bob: exactly. her behavior was very "conditional" that's going to get you into a lot of
uncomfortable situations when working with kids.
bob: on p. 75 I say "while good teachers don't condone off-task behavior, they never
let (it) erode a positive working relationship."
Steve G.: You get into a ton of uncomfortable situations.
bob: equally true in the role of parent!
Steve G.: But I wonder if it's about "liking" the kids in her case. Did she seem like she
wanted the best for them?
bob: so i'm still interested in your one-sentence definition of a "good relationship"
Steve G.: In other words, was it her attitude or was it her approach?
Nat: I think she liked and respected them for who they were
bob: i'm pretty certain she wanted the best for them. i think her "error" was that she
thought that was enough and she didn't even consider developing a positive
connection with kids
shelley: yes, sometimes you don't like what they are doing.....the choices that they
are making........but you still like them.....just not some of ltheir choices
bob: maybe it can be reduced to her "approach." that would be nice because that
puts it on a "behavioral" level and not a "values" level
bob: absolutely, shelley. there are times when we don't like the choice. but it doesn't
change the fact that we honor and like kids
Nat: I agree
Steve G.: I agree too, that in order for her to be successful she needs a positive
bob: i keep asking about your definition of a "good relationship" because I think we
use language loosely sometimes and erroneously believe that others mean the same
thing when we use the same language.
shelley: and sometimes......as i understand so well, it can be difficult to seperate the
two.....but we must
bob: it's not especially important for us in this chat, but if we worked together in the
same school, it would be helpful if we had a common definition of a "good
shelley: It is necessary to make a conscious effort to do this
Nat: A good relationship with my students means that even if i am dissapointed in
their action, the know the next day is a nw one
bob: shelley and i were in a "live" book chat e couple of hours ago and we talked a lot
about the importance of being conscious and intentional in all we do.
shelley: true , each day is a new dawn and a new beginning
bob: thanks, nat.
shelley: yes respect, but trust as well
bob: respect is one of those "wonderful" words. do you and the students share the
same definition of respect?
Nat: my students know i care about them regardless and there are days the tell me
the hate me - my response is that is ok i still like you
shelley: your students must trust you and believe in you as you need to of them
Steve G.: Probably not. ††††††††††††††
bob: i've seen lots of behavior that i perceived as disrespectful and the kids had
completely different perceptions.
Nat: mutual respect i believe is important
shelley: very tru Bob
Nat: absolutely bob - i see it daily in the 6th grade
bob: i endorse the idea of "mutual" but i always tell kids i will respect them and be
honest with them regardless of how they choose to be with me.
bob: kind of like nat telling kids he likes them regardless of what they say.
shelley: yes, since there is only one person that you can control......lol
bob: and i will not allow myself to be put into the victim box and being less honest
than i want to be simply because someone else chooses to be less honest with me.
Nat: at first the don't believe me but when i prove to the through my actions the
develope the respect that we believe the should have
shelley: most definitely agree with you Nat
bob: great point, nat. it DOES take time. but through actions you can develop the
trust that builds positive working relationships
bob: chapter 8 is about relevance. talk about that. important? no big deal?
bob: the teacher in that chapter (Trish) is very intentional about creating relevant
lessons. but some of her colleagues think it's "coddling" kids. what do you think?
Steve G.: There's no doubt it's important.
Steve G.: I think if you look at any brain research.
bob: this gets us into the area of "role." is it part of my job to create relevant
shelley: well, I think that when you show kids the "connect" and purpose for what
they are doing, the particiapation and intereswt goes way up
Steve G.: It's not about coddling it's about what gets through to long-term memory
Nat: Shelley I agree.
bob: this is probably the absolute worst group to be asking! but...if it's so important,
why do you think many teachers bristle at the suggestion that we create relevant
shelley: simply because they don't know how to
shelley: or they don't want to
bob: inmy experience, those teachers are not simply a small minority. there are lots of
teachers who are quite comfortable saying that relevance is not particularly
Nat: many don't like change
shelley: because they come from a different school of thought that there way is the
bob: ok, shelley. like me, you've been an educator for awhile. what do you think it is?
can't do it or don't want to?
shelley: we just need to show them that ther is in fact a better way
bob: cycles us back to realationships, doesn't it?
bob: if i get into a power struggle with a colleague and show them all the brain
research, etc... they are likely to resist. but...
Nat: i agree steve
Steve G.: I would agree with all of you. But it takes work.
Steve G.: And that's probably the elephant in the room in our school (and maybe a lot
shelley: but we can bring them in if we allow them to observe us and our kids
excitement about learning
bob: i don't agree! (not trying to be controversial) but i think that "unmotivated"
teachers are no different from "unmotivated" kids...
Nat: absolutely i agree
shelley: you know that may be true for the old die hards
shelley: but some, want to change things for the better, they just don't know how
because they are in a rut
bob: teachers often present as unmotivated but if they saw that they could be more
successful by developing skills etc (like relevance and relationships) they'd begin to
see that they would enjoy their jobs more.,..
Nat: I see and hear the same things from my colleagues when we share new ideas or
new strategies that we see from our studnets when they are confused or don't see
bob: just as kids need to believe they can be successful with effort and see that
success feels good, teachers need to believe they can be successful and feel better
shelley: yes, and truthfully, most of them want too!!
bob: of course. we all want to succeed and feel successful.
bob: too many teachers are just overwhelmed and don't have a clue where to begin.
(just like their students.)
Steve G.: I have to say wish more teachers would be "motivated" to do more, but I
even see that side in myself. "Do I need to do the extra mile here or there?" The
impulse is there.
shelley: you know how you feel when you come back from a workshop ...feeling
motivated to try new things??
bob: steve, thanks for your candor. let me ask you, do you feel the same lack of
motivation when you believe that your efforts will result in feeling good?
shelley: well, that's how to get teachers on board
bob: say more, shelley.
shelley: by them seeing your success and happiness, they are going to want ideas
from you so that they can feel similarly
shelley: it becomes somewhat contagious
bob: steve, i suspect your "lack of motivation" stems from a belief that it doesn't make
any difference. I'll bet that you are super-motivated when you think your effort
matters. am i right or off base???
bob: so shelley, you are talking about modeling things?
Steve G.: I'm not saying that I don't feel motivated to help the kids learn. I do. I think
it's there's the effort on the margin. I think I try to do a good job and do all that I
can. But sometimes it probably falls short on occasion
Steve G.: You're definitely right Bob. When I think it really can make a difference,
bob: well, i think most of us fall short on occasion. i know i do. that's not necessarily
lack of motivation. that's human nature living with my shortcomings
shelley: yes but also when my kids are into lessons, all participating cooperatively and
another teacher walks into the room,. they ask me, How come they are all engaged
and the kids aren't going crazy
shelley: how come they are so involed
shelley: this is what i amtalking about
shelley: things such as this
bob: i think we're touching something big here, steve. as a former administrator, i
wanted all my teachers to believe that their effort mattered. that's when they were
bob: i think we're touching something big here, steve. as a former administrator, i
wanted all my teachers to believe that their effort mattered. that's when they were
shelley: Nothing is ever achieved without some kind of enthusiasm
bob: shelley, you're getting into something we talked about earlier today. i think many
teachers can hear/learn things more easily from a colleague than an administrator.
(same with kids teaching each other).
Steve G.: And really, maybe that's just a good day/bad day thing.
shelley: yes, i always appreciate things when they are said by another teacher
bob: sure, steve. some of it probably can be tossed aside as good day/bad day. but i
stil think a lot will come down to feeling like the effort matters.
shelley: when it comes from an administrater, it can be taken differently
shelley: I know this is sometimes the case with me
bob: sure. there is a power differential when it's administrator and teacher. (funny,
we all "get" this when we talk about teachers and admin...but it's the same with
teachers and students!)
Nat: In my experience when it comes from a colleague depending on who you are,
anamosity can emerge because there is not a positve relationship or mutual respect
shelley: you know bob, sometimes I am teaching and a kid is just not getting it, and
when another kid explains it in "Kid Language" the light bulb goes on
Steve G.: I do think what I do makes a difference. I think the same cannot be said for
other colleagues though and it gets back to what we discussed a couple weeks ago.
What if it's just you pushing to try to make things better. But no one else is
shelley: and then i just laugh and say, "Why didn't I just say it likje that?"
Nat: That happens in my classroom - but it is usually me explaining it for the kids in
more friendly terms because my co-teacher is very old schooll and uses vocabulary
the students just don't get.
bob: great (and unanswerable!) question steve. i think we each need to decide who
we want to be and if we can be that in our current situation.
shelley: You can only change one person.... that is you......don't concern yourself
with them right now.....Just do what yo think is right and best for you
bob: so this provides a decent seque into ch 9: realistic expectations.
shelley: They are only doing what is need satifying for them at that moment.......and
when they finally see the spark or the light, that things can be better and nmore
need satisfying doing it another way, then they will try something new or different
Steve G.: Definitely Bob (and shelley)
bob: do we put realistic expectations on ourselves? how do we maintain realistic
expectations for kids, especially with high stakes testing and the standards craze?
Nat: I always tell my students I have high expectations for myself as well as for them
and my goal for them is see them reach high above my expectations.
Steve G.: I'm a big believer in setting expectations and making kids stretch. It's the
one way for them to learn. They don't really learn if they don't stretch and go
beyond what they know
Nat: I tell them everyday how smart they are and how they can achieve anything - I
make it absolutely clear "I believe in them" even when they don't believe in
shelley: yes Nat
bob: so...do they believe you?
shelley: so many times kids lose sight of this simply because they are kids,,, so they
do need to be reminded from time to time
bob: i see too many kids who feel overwhelmed by expectations they believe they
Steve G.: Bob, I'd like to hear about that. I think there is fine line between pushing
and too much. Where is that line?
shelley: we need to keep it real and accessable
bob: my belief is that kids will work hard whenthey see the relevance of the work and
believe success is attainable. agree?
shelley: all of the time so they don't lose sight of things and become discouraged
Nat: Absolutely bob,
bob: that's why i make a big deal out of emphasizing "growth" as opposed to
bob: i'm not sure every kid can meet the standards we set. but i am completely
convinced that all kids can make growth.
shelley: yes bob, However with the current grading system as we discussed earlier
today, this is a challenge for us eduators
Nat: I agree, each of my students are different and expectations have to be tailored.
bob: if we emphasize continuos growth and movement towards a goal (rather than
necessarily achieving it), kids can (and will) feel good about themselves and
shelley: we have to put things into perspective
Nat: What I mean is that I expect my spec. ed students to try to write a 4 paragraph
essay, but when they give me 2 great paragraphs I build on that not discourage
shelley: that is what we have to do
bob: shelley, i agree completely. maybe we should look at changing how we grade.
shelley: take it one step at a time
shelley: esp. with kids, because kids just are not abloe to think like adults
shelley: no kidding
shelley: If I was the one in charge of grading and decision making, things would be a
bob: expecting a sped student to achieve to the same standard as their classmate
may be setting the student up for failure....unless the standard is "growth"
shelley: but with this grading things, change is a process and it take s
bob: the emphasis gets switched from "attainment" to "learning." not everyone can
attain at the same level, but everyone can make gains toward.
Nat: Bob I agree and I am excited that our state is going to the growth model
shelley: Agree with you
shelley: but that is not we are being told to do for the most part
shelley: and we have to live within the system that they give us
shelley: we need to stay within their perameters
bob: nat, tell me more, please! what state? this sounds like something exciting!
Nat: Indiana and all I know is that we are looking for student growth on a more
individual basis which allows us to focus on students needs - in our districts through
data driven decision making in the form of data teams.
Steve G.: Steve G.: You know, I agree with all of you -- at least in terms of my
approach -- but I worry sometimes that we're really afraid of kids "failing"
Nat: I have done some research on the growth model and there has been a lot of
positive said, I am currently researching in more depth so I can assist my colleagues
as we move to this model in the fall
Steve G.: failure is really what helps everybody learn. I'm not saying we discourage
them but failure is ok, we should let them know.
bob: wow! that's very exciting. I did a big keynote thing in indianapolis in october and
something else in january. i thought the state was not moving in such a positive
direction. i'm very glad to hear this!
shelley: Steve, i do not agree with you
shelley: I do not learn best because I have failed
shelley: beg to differ with you
Steve G.: I don't mean in terms of grades.
Steve G.: I mean failing at task
bob: steve, i'm not advocating "failure," but i agree with you in large measure. it's ok
to fail. the key is what we learn from mistakes. if we moved from failure as "failure"
to failure as "††††††††††††††art of leatning," it's all good
Steve G.: I guess I worry about the fact that we're insulating the kids a bit. That's all.
shelley: failing does not help me learn and for the most part, it does not help my kids
Nat: What do you mean by insulating the kids?
Nat: I have to admit, I point out to my students my mistakes so they can see it is part
shelley: yes, it is ok to make mistakes
Steve G.: I guess it's like Michael Jordan's story.
shelley: that is different from learning from failure
bob: i don't think we can help kids learn to persevere (something I value) unless we
have them experience bumps along the way. (That's "nice talk" for failing.)
Steve G.: He was cut from the team.
Steve G.: And that was the best thing that ever happened to him.
Nat: I think we have to teach kids that success takes a lot of effort and with effort
comes failure sometimes we just need to use the failure to grow from of being human.
bob: great discussion everyone! looking forward to next week!
shelley: yes nat
shelley: i agree
Nat: bye everyone have a great weekend
bob: i do appreciate you making time and sharing your thoughts. please remember
that you can add comments during the week at your leisure.
Steve G.: Thanks Bob.
bob: my pleasure.....later everyone.....enjoy....
Nat: I have to admit, I point out to my students my mistakes so they can see it is part
of being human
Tim: Welcome all to the second round of Bob's chat series. For those who are new, you
can Edit your nickname by clicking on "edit nickname in the lower left hand window.
Then just follow the prompts. (It asks for age just to make sure everyone is 13 or
older. The age won't be displayed.
Tim: We'll get started shortly once Bob arrives.
bob: OK. Great. Glad to see some familiar names!
bob: In chapter 4, I advance the idea of internal control psychology.
bob: I see a disconnect between what we say we believe in (freedom and
responsibility) and our practices (trying to control others with rewards &
punishments) What do you think???
smartaleck: One of the big news magazines, Time or Newsweek, just did a cover story
on how "bribing" kids to work in school can work if done the right way. Your take?
bob: I go so far as to say we won't have significant improvement until we align our
practices with our stated beliefs.
Nat: I am wondering what they mean by done the right way?
Steve G.: Bob, I tend to believe that motto that school has to teach control otherwise
freedom has little meaning. We have to have the ability to teach limits as well as
bob: For me, it's all internal. I think each of us interprets reality differently (although
there is undoubtedly a lot of overlap.)
Nat: I agree
smartaleck: Are rewards necessarily a bad thing? What about rewarding students
who act in a responsible way?
jb: I think kids see the disconnect as well. Even though they may not be able to put it
into those words they recognize the hypocrisy and it makes us less effective with
them. Even the "good" kids.
Nat: I think rewards within reason could be effective.
bob: When we behave in ways that are consistent with our values and beliefs, the
brain naturally rewards us. So I'm not against rewards. Physiologically, we've already
got that! The paradox is that EXTERNAL rewards interfere with the natural reward
bob: Language is very important to me so I am often accused of being a bit "††††††††††††††
icky." I see a significant difference beteween rewarding and affirming.
Nat: Isn't the internal rewards the rewards we want to help our students develop or
jb: So you are saying that rewarding is giving something tangible and affirming is more
like a pat on the back?
smartaleck: How can we help students *want* to behave responsibly, so they will be
rewarded internally? Often, behaving responsibly seems to involve making some kind
bob: No. The pat on the back can be external, too. It's more the sequence:
bob: first help the student self-evaluate. Then you can affirm but the kid has already
acknowledged their success to themselves and let the "natural" reward system kick
Nat: smartaleck that is what has become difficult because of the over use of external
bob: Smartaleck is on to something big. The key is figuring out how to help others
build that internal picture.
bob: When kids WANT to act responsibly, they will do so (to the best of their ability.)
When they don't want to act responsibly, they'll only do what is necessary to get you
smartaleck: A lot of pop culture glorifies a me-first attitude, while acting responsibly is
depicted as "square." So we have to counteract that influence. No easy task.
bob: In both cases, the motivation comes from within.
Steve G.: Bob, you've talked about 'our values' -- but there seems to be some
distance between the extremes on that. For example, is it within all our values to
look at ends over means. Or care about means as well as ends? Some might differ.
bob: Steve, you are right. Any conversation about "values" becomes tricky. I have no
trouble talking about MY values. The issue comes when we are working with others.
Now we have to identify OUR values.
bob: smartaleck, another strange paradox: internal control psycholoy is about a
"me-first" orientation....but at a very deep level. It's not about immediat
gratification. It's about identifying who I really want to be.
Steve G.: I think there are many out there who believe "whatever it takes"
"Whatever it takes" to "what"??? What is the goal?
smartaleck: Bob, what are some suggestions for helping students care about trying
their best in school? Too often, teachers and students seem to be adversaries, when
they should be going after the same goal--student learning that will serve them well
Tim: I've heard for example, something I don't believe -- Geoffrey Canada is one --
who says: "Whatever it takes to get kids to learn, we'll do. Rewards.
bob: If the goal is to get kids to prform better on tests, rewards may be effective.
They create tunnel vision and focus. But....do they create life-long learners? The
research suggests they don't.
Tim: What does everyone else think?
Nat: I don't believe rewards for doing will foster life long learning mentality. I fear it
will hinder life long learning
smartaleck: This is a difficult question. As adults, we are motivated by rewards, aren't
Nat: If a student only does what he/she has to in order to get a reward, what are we
actually teaching them and are they really learning the material being taught?
bob: Nat, the research supports what you say. That's why I get a little nuts! We
continue practices that seem doomed to keep us where we are rather than bringing
to where we want to be!
Nat: I have to admit, I avoid our reward system in my building and I even get the
speech every month that I haven't written enought "cat cash". I am punished in
away for trying to rediscover the internal motivation of my students
bob: Smartaleck, for what it's worth...I'm not being paid to do this. The reward is the
good feeling I get from engaging in vigorous conversation about ideas I find
Steve G.: Like I've said, I agree with all of you. I just don't think some of my
colleagues might. And they are just as important as I am.
smartaleck: I guess the challenge is to make students feel internally rewarded by
learning, but unless they are intrinsically interested in a subject, that might be a
difficult thing to bring about.
jb: I think the tests have changed things. The adults in the schools are more invested
in the results than the kids are and it sets us all up to be adversaries.
Nat: Steve speaking from experience, the majority will not. My goal is to show them
that in my little corner of the world I don't have to give them something to a certain
bob: Smartaleck, that's another key. You are right: only a minority will be in love with
what you teach. But everyone will want to feel good about themselves and feel a
sense of pride. That's where we can begin.
Nat: jb, that is definately he case in my building - I teach 8th grade and after this
year the students don't take the "test" they take a different test so this test means
nothing and they are not afraid to express that
bob: Yes, Nat, we can operate within our "little corners." What is exciting for me is
when I get to work with a whole school or district and there is a real interest and
commitment to change and really challenge the status quo.
smartaleck: Do your students believe that learning with empower them in their future
lives, or do they see it as a pointless exercise?
bob: So I think in our little chat room, we all value internal motivation and the ideas of
internal control psychology make sense.
smartaleck: Agreed, but it seems easier to use extrinsic rewards
bob: I think kids need to see some immediate benefit to fully engage. To talk with kids
about how wonderful things will be in a distant future is pretty pointless. But to have
them identify how they feel NOW to be successful makes sense
Nat: smartaleck it is easier to use extrinsic, face it that is why it is used so often
bob: Easier to use external rewards: true. Question: are we looking for what is easier
or do we want something else? (I know my answer).
jb: Easier in the short term only. It is hard to keep up the rewards forever. And they
stop working - they want more.
bob: When I consider who I wan to be as an educator (and parent), I want to help
others connect to the power of internal motivation. I don't want to impede that with
rewards and punishments.
Nat: Bob do you think in order to move from external to more intrinsic motivation a
good way to take that step would be by slowly taking the external away?
bob: Smartaleck, when I would be dealing with a 5th grade kid, it made no sense to
talk about "after graduation." It did make sense to ask, "What would it be like for you
if you did well on this assignment?" That's immediate.
bob: The kid could then begin to connect the dots and see that being engaged, being
responsible, and putting in maximum effort BECAUSE SUCCESS FEELS GOOD. It's
internal and it's immediate.
smartaleck: What do you recommend for students who lack the confidence to
engage, who don't think effort will lead to success?
bob: Nat...might sound weird, but I'd move very slowly. As I have often said in
workshops "coercion is the glue that holds the school together." We need to move
slowly from an external to internal approach
bob: Kids frequently lack confidence because they are afraid of our judgments. Better
to be the class clown and disengaged than to try and still fail. So I try to create a
situation where a student is judged on what he/she can control: their effort.
Nat: Bob that is what I thought and have actually been doing.
Steve G.: And Bob, following what smartaleck is saying, what are ways teachers can
make the classroom "comfortable."
bob: Steve, ritual and predictability (ch 5) is one way to help the class be
comfortable. Ritual doesn't have to be fun or a gimmick. It can be as mundane as the
"††††††††††††††roblem of the day" or the Friday vocab test.
Nat: I do, we spend the first week of the school year learning them and revisit them
throughout the school year.
bob: Regardless, when there is predictibility in the environment, it allows kids to feel
safe and secure. The more predictibility there is, the more students can effectively
handle the novelty involved in learning.
Nat: some examples; political cartoon mondays, primary document reading Fridays,
smartaleck: Bob, don't you think schools are set up to use grades as extrinsic
rewards, but this approach doesn't work with all kids? Can we really shift the focus to
intrinsic rewards when test scores and grades are given such emphasis?
Steve G.: To the point you made in your blog though -- at least I think you were
making --what if ritual becomes "too ritual" -- there is a need to change things up,
no? Without putting the class on edge.
Nat: smartaleck, my students haven't been very motivated by their grades
bob: Nat, I'm curious. It seems like you use a lot of rituals. Do you find your students
are more willing to take risks because the environment has so much ritual included?
smartaleck: Nat and others, when grades don't motivate your students, what have
you relied on instead? It's hard to be fascinating five days a week.
bob: Yes, Steve, it's important that rituals don't cross the line and move into
mind-numbing boredom. We need a balance. Ritual and novelty are two sides of a
coin and equally essential.
bob: Grat question!!!
bob: Or "great" question for those who type as fast as they think!
bob: Stange as it may seem, I DON'T want my kids motivated by grades! I want them
excited about learning and gaining new skills and being able to do something or know
something that they didn't know before. Allof that feels great!
Steve G.: I would agree with smartaleck. What motivates kids if not grades. Long
term isn't in a kids vocabulary. At least not many I've seen.
bob: Ch 4 (internal control psychology) identifies the needs that drive all of us.
Included is the need for power/competence. Kids want to be successful (regardless
of what they may tell you.) No one wants to fail.
Nat: My colleagues tell me this takes to long, but the end result of my 5 minute
conferences outwieghts the time it takes and I really enjoy getting to know my
jb: I use my relationship with the kids to motivate sometimes. I work hard to know
them and communicate that I care about them - even when they are not making
good grades. I find that lots of times "††††††††††††††roblem" kids are not a problem in my
Steve G.: Bob, I think that's very true. But isn't success defined as grades for the
kids. Not for us, per se. I think the reality is that the kids see good grades as
something they "hold up to others"
Steve G.: recognition in a sense.
bob: Thanks, Nat. The 5 minutes you "invest" in a student may seem like it's "way too
long" but compare that to the hourbob: Thanks, Nat. The 5 minutes you "invest" in a student may seem like it's "way too long" but compare that to the hours spent when we don't succeed!s spent when we don't succeed!
bob: jb is on to something. I think we address this in more detail in a later chapter,
but relationships are crucial.
Nat: I agree and it is very rewarding when a former 8th grader expressed how
he/she appreciated what I did for them...that is my reward
bob: When a "††††††††††††††roblem kid" acts responsibly in one class but not in another, it
is illuminating. The label "††††††††††††††roblem kid" is really a reflection of the environment
Nat: environment I believe and we create the environment
bob: Nat, I'm glad tou got that validation. But...believe me...you have been just as
helpful to others but just never been told! That's why waiting for the external reward
is pointless. Learn to self-evaluate (another chapter!)
bob: OK and part of creating the environment is how we present ourselves to the
kids. In ch 6, Lenny Blair is this wonderfully enthusiastic teacher. Do you think
teachers "should" be enthusiastic. (Lenny does.)
Nat: I have to admit self-evaluation is a weakness for me
jb: I don't think we can all be Ron Clark, but I think the kids can tell if it is just a job.
bob: Thanks for the honesty, Nat. Not a surprise. All of us have been rewarded and
have succeeded. So we're good at the reward/punishment game. It takes time and
effort to develop effective self-evaluation skills. But it really is very libersating.
Nat: I think if you are to enthusiastic at least for my 8th graders they think I am
phoney and don't take my enthusim for history seriously
smartaleck: Bob, how can we help our students become internally motivated to
behave in ways we believe are in their long-term interest (e.g., study), when other
behavior (e.g., goofing off) has a more immediate reward?
bob: Nat, you are right. You've got to be genuine. I think in Ch 6, the kids talk about
Lenny Blair being "real." If the kids thought he was just posturing, his enthusiasm
wiould be a joke.
Steve G.: Enthusiasm is one way to put it. I think what Nat says -- it's really being
Nat: smartaleck, I am going to add my 2 cents worth, stop rewarding the other
behavior - what I mean is if the "goofing off" is daily and then one day no goofing
don't give them a reward for not goofing.
Steve G.: Not everyone has that "energy"
Steve G.: But I think the more sincerity that comes across the more kids see that.
bob: nicely phrased steve. "sincerity" is kind of "energy neutral." whereas,
"enthusiasm" can sound daunting and a bit unrealistic
bob: smartaleck, i think one of my roles is to help kids begin to develop the capacity to
see beyond the immediate. I enjoy sports and use that to connect with lots of kids.
they easily see that practice is necessary for success in sports.
bob: goofing off would be much more immediately enjoyable. when they make that
connection, they can begin to see that long-term success sometimes means denying
the immediate. But again, it's all internal. Who do you wan to be?
Steve G.: Bob, what do you think about that MI theory idea that you can tell kids'
"intelligence" by the way they goof off?
Steve G.: In other words, the lingual kids, will talk a lot.
Steve G.: The interpersonal one will chat with friends etc.
bob: We are driven by multiple wants. part of my job is helping kids want what i want
during our time together - to gladly sacrifice the immediate goofing off because THEY
want something else - something that involves being on-task and ficused.
smartaleck: How do you get them to care about the learning and not just the grade?
Assuming they even care about the grade.
Steve G.: smartaleck, maybe part of it is not so much caring about "learning" or the
grade as just learning because you're making it interesting.
Steve G.: Everyone quickly rips on video games for example. But kids 'learn' through
video games. Some of them pretty educational.
Steve G.: how that applies to the classroom, it's a tough, I'll admit.
bob: we are naturally curious beings. if we create lessons that tap into that natural
curiousity, we'll have more success. that said, some subjectsd lend themselves to
that more easily than others.
Steve G.: I try to figure it out and am not successful many times.
jb: I think sometimes I get kids doing what I want them to do and the learning
happens by "accident". They were not so interested in learning per se but they
enjoyed what we were doing.
bob: i rad a book last year. I think the title is "everything bad is good for you." it
challenges lots of our assumptions about video games, tv, etc...
Steve G.: yes, jb said it much better than I did.
jb: I teach math and one investigation involves putting pennies in a cup attached to a
slinky. It is a fun day and they learn something about linear functions along the way
smartaleck: Providing the right level of challenge (as video games do) is important,
and that ties into differentiated instruction.
bob: here's one tidbit i kind of remember. a person who scored in the top 25 % on a
standard IQ test years ago, would be in the bottom quarter today! Despite all the
negativity, kids know so much more today!
Nat: video games provide immediatel feedback and kids (at least my own) aren't
playing for an extrinsic reward, but more for a feeling they accomplsihed or beat the
bob: we really have done a great job and kids today are much more capable problem
solvers (that's one of the skills video games teach!)
smartaleck: Thanks, Bob!
Steve G.: thanks Bob. Once again
bob: a quick reminder: no chat next week. I will not be home. So we gather again 2
weeks from tonight.
Nat: I have also enjoyed our conversations, thanks bob see you next time
Tim: We'll see you all next time. Thanks again for coming tonight and tell your friends
bob: encourage your colleagues to join the conversation and become part of the
"inspiring student motivation" group on EDge. Together, we can make a difference!
I am excited to announce an online book study discussion group based on The Motivated Student: Unlocking the Enthusiasm for Learning.I hope you’ll join this professional learning community and encourage your colleagues to do the same.
The purpose is to discuss The Motivated Student and identify how to take positive advantage of the internal motivation students bring to school. If you’re satisfied with the number of students who work hard and regularly display the effort you want, then this group is not for you. On the other hand, if you wish more students worked harder and you’d like to develop strategies to engage and inspire more students, you’ll find this group professionally enriching.
Here’s how it will work: I’ll host a live online chat, following the schedule outlined below. The chat will give me an opportunity to introduce some key concepts from the chapters we are discussing and to initiate conversation. After each live chat, I’ll post some questions/topics for discussion on the “Inspiring Student Motivation” group wall on EDge so participants can share strategies, ask questions, and provide suggestions about how to foster internal motivation and academic success. Just go to http://edge.ascd.org/_Inspiring-Student-Motivation/group/110667/127586.html to get to the “Inspiring Student Motivation” wall.
Here is our schedule:
April 15: live chat from 7:00-8:00 PM Eastern time.
Topic: Chapters 1,2,3 of The Motivated Student
April 22: live chat from 7:00-8:00 PM Eastern time.
Topic: Chapters 4,5,6 of The Motivated Student
May 6: live chat from 7:00-8:00 PM Eastern time.
Topic: Chapters 7,8,9 of The Motivated Student
May 13: live chat from 7:00-8:00 PM Eastern time.
Topic: Chapters 10,11 of The Motivated Student
May 20: live chat from 7:00-8:00 PM Eastern time.
Topic: Chapters 12,13,14,15 of The Motivated Student
To order The Motivated Student visit: http://shop.ascd.org/productdisplay.cfm?productid=109028.
Get your copy today. I look forward to chatting with you on April 15!