Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Episode 5 Expect the Best

“Expectations impact ourselves and others.” Bruce Wilkinson, The 7 Laws of the Learner

Do you know what a placebo is? It’s a fake pill. 90% of all pills prescribed were placebos up until 1890. If you were really sick your pill was really big. Doctors knew the placebos had no power to make the patient better. Still, they would tell their patients take 2 of these pills every 4 hours for them to have their full effect. Amazingly, though, because the patient believed in the power of the medicine, it had a positive effect. They expected the medicine to make them feel better. When it comes to teaching, what do you expect of your students? Do you expect the best? Do you expect the best for each one or just your stronger students? Do you expect the best from those that make up our sub-populations? I think this opening quote is a great reminder for us to set high expectations for our students. This is one way to keep students motivated and challenge them to work hard. When they know that you are expecting their best work and you are giving them your best, they will rise to your expectations!

Episode 4 Choices

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius

With all the objectives and skills that we are mandated to teach we can sometimes forget that still, we have lots of choices. We have the power to choose which technology we want to integrate, which novel we want to study, which resource we want to use. Just as we have choices, one of the best ways to motivate students is to give them choices. They may not be able to determine how many questions to complete but maybe you can give them the choice to work independently or with a partner. When it’s a major project, does it have to be done on project board or can they create a multimedia presentation. We have some great resources in the library to help you give your students menus or choices. To the students, maybe it will still seem like work, but when given a choice they will enjoy the work and at the very least do the work.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Episode 3 Let's Get Personal

My high school choir teacher was the best! She modeled excellence in everything she did. She challenged and stretched us to rise to her high expectations. And, we did. Sure, this podcast is to give you helpful tips and strategies to help you motivate your students, but you know what? You are the best motivator. Not just your position as a teacher, but who you are personally! For example, do your students know what you like and don’t like? Can they tell someone where you were born or how many siblings you have? When was the last time you used a personal anecdote (silly, scary, or serious) to explain a concept or topic. When we share who we are with our students, we are connecting with them. They see us as the “humans” we really are and they see how much we care about their academic success as well as their personal success. This week I want to challenge you to get “personal”. Share some personal stories with them let them know more about you. And, ask them some questions so that you can know more about them. Finally, feel free to send me an email sharing your results. I would love to hear how it worked!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Accentuate the Positive

"You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between" – Johnny Mercer

You have caught them in the act. The act of breaking a rule. Now it’s time to dish out the consequences. How do you normally respond? Have you ever caught yourself saying something like, “If you are late again you are going to have morning detention.” Or “If you keep that up I will write you up!” But I read this article the other day that recommends that we focus on the motivation to achieve instead of the motivation to avoid failure. In other words, instead of focusing on being late to avoid detention (something they don’t want) focus on arriving on time so they can learn all the day’s class has to offer. If you are like me, this will take some time before it becomes habit. Still, I think it’s worth it. So next time you are tempted to say, “Be quiet or I am going to call your parents (something negative); say something like “Be quiet and show your classmate that you respect him.” (something positive).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

What's In a Name?

“What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet”- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

The first week of school is over. You’ve had children complete and return a number of forms. They may have even turned in some assignments. So, let me ask you… Do you know all of their names? Unlike, Shakespeare’s famous line from Romeo and Juliet, calling a student by another name would not be as sweet. In fact, it may make them feel insignificant. If you are looking for a small way to motivate your students, start here. To a new student, the one thing that can help them connect with you early on is when you call them by their name. It means a lot that you took the time to remember their name. If you can recall all your students’ names, maybe the challenge for you will be pronouncing it correctly. Let’s face it we have students from all parts of the world right here in our classrooms. So, stretch yourself and write it out phonetically if you need to but say it right! Some simple ways to remember their names early on is to say it as often as you can. Look at your roster and their face when calling attendance. It may be a simple motivator but you will strike it big with your students.