By: John Bayne
Many teachers have historically incorporated gifts or other external stimuli to engage students. To clarify the difference between external and internal motivation issimple. Internal motivation comes from within the student and externalmotivation is from an external stimulus. Do you remember a teacher in your past who used threats to motivate students? How about a teacher who used rewards suchas candy? These are both positive and negative forms of external motivation. Research shows that using extrinsic motivation is only effective to produce an immediate response. In the long run, it can be counter productive in producing free and logical thinkers.
How does this lesson translate into the classroom? Empower your students through choice. In my GIA class, I provide center based lessons for the students to rotate and choose their activity. Mystudents enjoy having a multitude of activity options, as well as, the ability to move between the centers and not spend too much time on one single activity.I have found that this significantly improves the quality of education in my classroom.
Not every student comes equipped with an innate passion for education. My job as a teacher is to guide the studentsto love learning. I do this by infusingmy passion into every subject. I help the students self-visualize success by modeling behaviors. I use a variety of‘think alouds’ to model how they handle an array of problems. In GIA, we have a document called the Journey to Excellence, J2E. It has four guiding principles: integrity, honor, respect, and dignity. Think-alouds with the J2E leadthe students to positive self-talk and good decision making. Students that are able to exhibit these qualities work well in groups and will be more equipped for the real world.
Praise thejourney, not the task. Make praisespecific and reach outside of the classic ‘good job’. Say for example, ‘ Inoticed you spent your time researching during recess, looks like you are veryinterested in the topic. Could you teachme about that?’ This not only adds authenticity to the praise, but helps developthe student’s awareness and in turn develops internal motivation.
In GIA, weregularly discuss intrinsic motivation and have set-up weekly challenges for teachersto implement authentic praise and provide choice-based opportunities. Thisyear, we have adopted the theme ‘Reach for the Stars’. We want the students to realize that they canhave, do or be anything they want. We will be conducting activities and assemblies throughout the year to help ourstudents along their chosen paths.
My suggestion for all new teachers this year is to help your students reach for thestars. It will always be easy to givethe students a quick piece of candy to get their attention; however, this is adangerous pitfall for beginning teachers. Remember our goal is to prepare them for the future. Build their love of education and rememberthat the key to success is internal.