21st Century Motivation

I'm working on a conference presentation focused on encouraging more Montana teachers to pursue National Board Certification. Hopefully the presentation will actually be more of a working session but in preparation, I'm reading a lot about motivation. And one of the most accessible, interesting books on motivation is Drive by Daniel Pink. Go get the book, read it, and come back here. Oh, you don't have time? Ok, check out the links below that I've been spending time at and the thoughts I keep coming back to:

  • What's good for the goose is good for the gander. While I'm thinking about motivating administrators to think creatively to motivate their staff, motivation applies to students... staff.. conference attendees. Pink speaks about the primary drivers of motivation as being autonomy, mastery, and purpose. How do we use those whenever we're trying to change behaviors or motivate anyone?
  • Here is a link to Pink's phenomenal TEDTalk (2009), The Puzzle of Motivation.
  • Two great interviews with Pink: One interview in Education Leadership (2014) and one in School Administrator (2012). In the EL article, some favorite quotes are, "The simplest, most effective performance-enhancing tip for any organization is for the people in charge… to have two fewer conversations in a given week about how to do something and two more conversations about why they're doing it.” and "Our default assumption…should be this: Let’s trust people with autonomy instead of assuming they can’t handle it.". And in SA, “If the system thwarts people’s autonomy, thwarts their ability to experiment, you’re just going to get little pockets [of excellence and innovation]. You’re not going to get anything widespread.” Those articles are speaking specifically about managing staff but I immediately think about classrooms.
  • Another great TEDTalk about mastery by Dr. Tae (2011), Can skateboarding save our schools?.
  • Autonomy requires trust. If you can't trust your students or your staff then you need to create space to trust. That may not be easy but create a frame and trust them within it. Mastery requires practice. Create a frame and let students and staff practice, practice, practice without worrying about failure. Don't make knee-jerk decisions about staff effectiveness or student-ability. Provide space to "fail forward." Purpose requires clarity and personal connections. What is the mission, vision, and goals of the school? Your classroom? Your lesson? Do they provide enough room for individuals to personally connect?
  • Regarding National Board, there are many possible ways to incentivize teachers to pursue but one that I shudder at is when districts pay for some or all of the feeds up front and offer to waive the payback if the teacher passes. A) National Board is about growth. You can retake National Board components so how many attempts are you willing to give the teacher before you demand repayment? Additionally, I'd imagine most candidates are better teachers for pursuing the certificate even if they didn't pass. If you're worried people are submitting just to submit, ask for a very minimum score or ask people who submit to talk to the staff or the board about what they learned during the process. Help them find the worth in the process. And B) doesn't that just rub salt in the wounds? Teachers who pursue National Board are generally pouring their heart and minimal free time into the process. They know the pass rates aren't high. If they fail then get a bill... Well, ouch. That's not going to create good will and won't motivate others to pursue.

Thanks again for reading my random lists.

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