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Ever wish your students were more motivated? If you’re like most of us, you have tried an array of rewards and punishments to motivate kids. There’s only one problem: it doesn’t work. At least it doesn't work well enough. People (yes, even students) aren’t motivated from the outside so rewards and punishments only work to a point. We are internally motivated. That’s why it's essential to engage and inspire students to be motivated to succeed in school (and life.)

If you’re ready to move beyond the reward/punishment model and embrace a whole new way to understand motivation, I encourage you to come back regularly. It’s time to challenge the status quo and create schools and classrooms based on what really motivates behavior.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Giving Kids What They Need

It's the holiday season and kids are busily telling parents (and others) what they want. To discover some great gift ideas that won't cost you any money, read "Giving Kids What They Need."

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Waiting for Superman: Using(Mis)information to Create Perception: Part II

The movie Waiting for Superman announces, "We know what to do." The not-so-subtle implication is to dismantle traditional public schools. To learn what we really need, read "Waiting for Superman: Using(Mis)information to Create Perception: Part II."

Monday, November 29, 2010

Waiting for Superman: Creating Perception with (Mis)information

The new movie Waiting for Superman includes some important (mis)information that supports its agenda. Read about it in "Waiting for Superman: The Use of (Mis)information to Create Perception (Part I).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Report Cards and Choice Theory

Do you think report cards are a form of external motivation? As someone who teaches, writes about, and applies Choice Theory, I have thought quite a bit about this issue. To read how I answered that question at a recent workshop, go to "Report Cards and Choice Theory."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Rubrics, Self-Evaluation, & Creativity

Do rubrics stifle creativity? That was the question I was asked after I delivered a keynote presentation at the System Changes Conference in South Dakota last month.

Read what I had to say in "Rubrics, Self-Evaluation, & Creativity."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Hidden Costs of External Rewards

If you are like most educators, you offer external rewards to your students. Do yourself a favor by becoming aware of the hidden costs of providing external rewards: "External Rewards: Some Hidden Costs."

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Sense of Purpose

Education has the potential to be a deeply satisfying career, in part because what we do matters. Creating a sense of purpose is essential if you want to experience genuine happiness. Read about the need to have a sense of purpose.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Teaching, Learning, & Responsibility

Please take a few minutes to read what I have to say about "Teaching, Learning, & Responsibility." As always, I encourage and welcome your comments.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Poor Grammar, Tough Talk, & Hyperbole

The Arne Duncan approach to education reform is characterized by tough talk and hyperbole. To make matters worse, there are the grammatical lapses. Read more: "Poor Grammar, Tough Talk, & Hyperbole."

Sure, Our School Has Problems, But We'll Pay You to Enroll Your Child!

Here's a new twist: a school is offering parents money to enroll their kids! Only one catch: the school doesn't do a great job providing a good education. Read "Sure, Our School Has Problems, But We'll Pay You to Enroll Your Child!"

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Getting at the Roots of Bullying

I encourage you to read my new article, "Getting at the Roots of Bullying," published by the Virginia Journal of Education. I examine how to prevent bullying and how to intervene when it does occur.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

No Testing, Please: We're Teaching (and Learning)!

Read about a school in New Hampshire that has decided to abandon unnecessary testing. They will use authentic assessment and increase teaching time. Congratulations to Timberlane Regional High School! Click here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Standardized Testing, Reality, & Perception

The debate about standardized testing nicely illustrates the relationship between perception and reality. Read about it in "Standardized Testing, Perception, & Reality."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Choice Theory: An Introduction

I just completed an introductory piece about Choice Theory with some commentary about implcations for educators. I hope you'll check it out by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Want to Stop Bullying? (Some Things You Should Know)

Despite the cries that we need "more research" and "stricter enforcement" to effectively address the problem of bullying, there are things that you should know and things we can do now. To learn more, read "Want to Stop Bullying? Some Things You Should Know."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Beyond Goals: Creating An Inspiring Classroom

Want to start the school year off right and create a classroom where the students are more motivated to do what you want? Read my article "Beyond Goals: Creating An Inspiring Classroom." It describes a process you can use to create a shared vision of success with your students.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Race to The Top: An Invitation to the Bad Old Days

We live in an increasingly interdependent world where collaboration is more important than ever. What does "Race to the Top" offer? A competition that pits teachers against each other. Read more here.

How Important is Academic Rigor?

Does academic rigor prepare students to be more successful? You may be surprised by some recent research. Click here to read more.

Separating Students by Gender

Read my recent thoughts about separating students by gender.

What are your thoughts about this increasingly popular practice?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pleasure vs. Happiness: What's Your Goal?

I just read an interesting article entitled “Why Money Makes You Unhappy.” The article is worth reading on its own merits but I found myself intrigued most by something I noticed in the opening sentence of the first two paragraphs:

“Money is surprisingly bad at making us happy” and “Needless to say, this data contradicts one of the central assumptions of modern society, which is that more money equals more pleasure.” (Note: I added the underlining.)

Read those two sentences carefully and you’ll see that the author, like most people, believes happiness and pleasure are synonymous. They’re not.

We experience pleasure in the moment. It is superficial, but not necessarily tied to things we truly value. Happiness is a deeper, more meaningful psychological state we experience when we are engaged in satisfying relationships, meaningful work, significant accomplishment, or doing some good in the world.

Pleasure is like empty calories. They may taste good while you are consuming them, but they won’t sustain or nourish you over time. Drug users and chronic alcoholics experience lots of pleasure, but very little happiness. The same goes for those who engage in sex without relationship. Lots of pleasure. No real happiness.

Money can buy us a lot of pleasure. Look around you and you’ll see any number of people who experience plenty of pleasure. Spend any significant time with them and you’ll often discover that they are addicted to pleasure because it dulls the pain of living a life devoid of genuine happiness.

Are you working to get more pleasure or happiness in your life?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

We Are Driven by Fun

One of the most overlooked areas in education is the importance of fun in the classroom. Renowned psychiatrist William Glasser has identified fun as one of the five basic needs that drives all human behavior. If you want your students to be more motivated to do what you want, infuse fun into your classroom.

The drive for fun is captured wonderfully in a two-minute video: Piano Stairs. What motivated so many people to use the stairs as opposed to the escalator? Just watch and you’ll see that it is all about fun.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Too Many Carrots, Too Many Sticks

Please read “Too Many Carrots, Too Many Sticks: Four Fallacies in Federal Policies for Low-Achieving Schools,” by Arthur H. Camins, published today in Education Week.

Here’s a passage from this important article:

“Carrots and sticks may achieve short-term results, but their use frequently has unintended consequences to the detriment of core values and long-term goals. It is long past time that we stop endorsing policies and programs based on fallacies, and instead demonstrate the leadership and integrity to act on what we know makes all of us better.”

I continue to be encouraged that more and more educators are finally realizing that the reward/punishment model has taken us as far as it can. To create the schools we want for our kids (and teachers), we need to engage, inspire, and build schools and classrooms based upon the principles of internal control psychology.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Paying Big Bucks for Puny Results

You can’t get much more mainstream than The Wall Street Journal. For that reason, I was delighted to read a piece written on June 18 by Eric Felton that unmasks the limits of incentive programs sweeping the nation (“Age of Incentives: Paying Big Bucks for Puny Results”). I encourage you to do yourself a favor and read this brief article, but here’s an excerpt:

"The incentive schemes may be touted as sophisticated means to produce desirable social outcomes. But as far as policy innovations go, the basic idea—if you want people to do more of X, pay them to do X—strikes me as decidedly uninspired. Especially since it so rarely works.

"Companies may have bulked up the slimming schemes, but that hasn't exactly produced a svelte workforce. It turns out that paying kids to get better grades doesn't result in better grades, either."

Of course, like most of us, the author knows no alternative to rewards, so ends his article with resignation: “That said, I’m off to the Lego Store.”

I’m sensing a fundamental (and very exciting) shift. Increasingly, people are accepting that the reward/punishment model has taken us as far as it can. The uncomfortable dilemma facing the majority is that they don’t know what else to do. (Hence, “I’m off to the Lego Store.”) If you’re looking for a viable alternative, I hope you’ll check out any (or all) of my books listed on the left. You will find practical strategies that will help you engage and inspire. It's time to move beyond the reward/punishment model.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Importance of Fun in Learning

There has been an interesting exchange recently in The Washington Post about the importance of fun in the classroom.

Renowned psychiatrist William Glasser has written and spoken about the strong connection between fun and learning on numerous occasions. I have heard Dr. Glasser say many times something like this: “Fun is the genetic payoff for learning.” Glasser’s Choice Theory identifies fun as a basic need that drives human behavior.

In The Motivated Student, I write: “Walk into any great classroom, and the feeling of fun is palpable. It can be seen on the faces of the students. Just as importantly, it seen on the faces and in the body language of the teacher. This doesn’t mean there is chaos and foolishness going on. On the contrary, the best classrooms are characterized by focused work in a joyful atmosphere.” (p. 42)

Put simply, fun with a purpose supports learning.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Acknowledging Every Student

How can we engage more kids and foster an environment where every student feels valued? One school in Canada has eliminated their annual awards ceremony, deciding, instead, to acknowledge every child. Read about it here.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Response to Intervention for Tots: Blaming the Victim

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. 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 bringing 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 many of these 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???

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Merit Pay: Some Preliminary Findings

Just read the following today in Education Week: “Preliminary results from a Chicago program containing performance-based compensation for teachers show no evidence that it has boosted student achievement on math and reading tests, compared with a group of similar, nonparticipating schools, an analysis released today concludes.”

Compare this expensive (and divisive) strategy to that used by Michael Anderson in Indianapolis (see the May 31 posting below).

When we build relationships and a collaborative environment with kids, they thrive. When we implement competitive reward systems, kids don’t do better while staff morale suffers. A successful model is cost-friendly. A failed model is expensive. Are those in positions of power really "data driven"?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Race to the Top: Who Decides Where the Money Goes?

What do you know about the process for determining who is awarded “Race to the Top” money? I’ll admit I didn’t know much. Even though I think “Race to the Top” is the ultimate oxymoron - a competitive process with an objective to help us succeed in an increasingly interdependent and collaborative world – I figured the current administration was enlightened enough to create a decision-making process that is inclusive. Then I read this:

“Education secretary Arne Duncan devised the 500-point scale by which various ‘peer reviewers,’ none of them directly involved in K-12 education, will evaluate the states’ competing bids.”

Yikes!

To read the full story, visit http://www.economicprincipals.com/issues/2010.05.30/1146.html

Monday, May 31, 2010

One Formula for Success

Just came across an article about a young math teacher who has been acknowledged for his success in Indianapolis. The first paragraph sums it up nicely: "Michael Anderson says his recipe for success in the classroom is simple: Earn students' respect, create an environment where it's safe for them to try and even fail, and then make the material relevant to their lives." To read the entire article, visit
www.indystar.com/article/20100521/NEWS04/5210328/1001/NEWS/IPS-Teacher-of-the-Year-goes-from-mutiny-to-best-in-class

A couple of things stand out. Anderson identifies building an emotional connection as the first step in successful teaching. Also, this is only his third year teaching! It is widely (and erroneously) assumed that it takes many years for teachers to become highly skilled experts. That would be true if the most important variables in teaching were related to content. But Anderson demonstrates that successful teaching is based on factors that even new teachers can excel in from the beginning of their careers.

Thanks, Michael. We need a lot more like you in schools everywhere. I wish you continued success and joy as you serve in this most noble field.

Friday, May 28, 2010

internalmotivation.net newsletter

Putting the final touches on the June internalmotivation.net newsletter. I hope to have it completed within a few days. It will include articles about

1.Paying students for good grades;

2. What research says about spanking children (and a suggested alternative to “time out”);

3. The importance of creativity in business leadership;

4. Learning opportunities related to internal control psychology;

5. More!

To be put on the mailing list for this FREE newsletter, simply send me an e-mail with your first and last name requesting to be added to the mailing list. Be certain to put “newsletter mailing list” in the subject line of your newsletter so I can find it if your e-mail somehow finds it way into my “spam” folder. I’ll send the newsletter to you and you can print, copy, and share with everyone interested in internal motivation.

Note: I will not share your contact information!

bob@internalmotivation.net

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

External Rewards & Creativity

IBM’s Institute for Business Value recently conducted a study involving 1500 chief executives to determine the most important leadership competency for the future. The result: creativity. (http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/may2010/id20100517_190221.htm?link_position=link4) Think about that for just a moment. Research repeatedly suggests that the reward/punishment model stifles creativity.

When we work for an external reward, we are motivated to do exactly what you want. That’s compliance. It’s not creativity. If we’re serious about having students be “college and career ready,” and if we want to promote excellence in leadership, we need to foster creativity rather than snuff it out.

Welcome to Inspiring Student Motivation!

Ever wish your students were more motivated? If you’re like most of us, you have tried an array of rewards and punishments to motivate kids. There’s only one problem: it doesn’t work. At least it doesn't work well enough. People (yes, even students) aren’t motivated from the outside so rewards and punishments only work to a point. We are internally motivated. That’s why it's essential to engage and inspire students to be motivated to succeed in school (and life.)

If you’re ready to move beyond the reward/punishment model and embrace a whole new way to understand motivation, I encourage you to come back regularly. It’s time to challenge the status quo and create schools and classrooms based on what really motivates behavior.