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.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Managing Your Child's "Expanding" Vocabulary

I recently received this question from a parent:

My son is 14 years old and he just began learning cuss words. I understand that he may be trying to verbally release anger and stress but isn’t 14 a bit too young to be cursing? I firmly tell him that he shouldn’t use such words but I can’t seem to get through to him. What can I do to help him stop cursing?

There’s no single reason why youngsters choose to use profanity. It may be an attempt to act “grown up,” especially if adults in the home use profanity. It may be a way to appear “cool,” particularly if their friends use profanity. It may be a way to test limits and discover boundaries. It may simply be a reflection of contemporary society.

I am uncomfortable advising any parent about what they should be regarding their child’s use of profanity. Each parent needs to establish what is acceptable in their home. My wife and I never had a big problem with profanity. We simply told our three kids, “We don’t use that kind of language in this house.” There were no big discussions. No family meetings. No punishment. As parents, we identified the expectation and moved on. Equally importantly, neither my wife nor I used profanity around our kids. (Telling your kids to “Do what I say, not what I do” just doesn’t work. It’s essential to model the behavior you want from your children.)

Part of parenting is helping kids learn that we act and speak differently in various situations. How I act and speak when I’m conducting a workshop for parents or teachers is different from how I act and speak when out to dinner with friends or on vacation with my family. Kids are well served when they learn that some behavior and language may be acceptable in one situation and inappropriate in another context. My wife and I made it clear to our kids that profanity wasn’t appropriate in our home. That worked for us, but each parent needs to establish the expectations for their own family.


As always, if you enjoyed this and found it useful, please send the link to your friends. Thanks.

Bob Sullo

For information about books by Bob Sullo and to schedule a keynote, workshop, or series for your school, agency, or parent group visit www.internalmotivation.net

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Question For Teachers: "What Do You Want?"

As schools across America prepare to begin a new academic year, teachers face expectations from various sources, including parents, building leaders, department heads, and central office. With most states opting into the  the Common Core State Standards Initiative, yet another set of expectations is in play. It’s all part of today’s educational landscape.

The problem with these expectations - perhaps “limitation” is a more accurate word - is that they are external. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with them, but people are ultimately motivated from the inside. The expectations of others and externally imposed standards only take us so far. To reach the highest level of achievement, professionalism, and motivation, we need to develop internal expectations and standards.

I invite every educator to create their own expectations for the coming year, using WDEP, a model developed by Bob Wubbolding, Senior Faculty member of The William Glasser Institute.

W: Want. It’s obvious what others want and expect from you this school year. Beyond that, what do you want for yourself and from yourself? Is it that more students achieve at a higher level? Is it to nurture more collaborative relationships with parents? To cut down on the number of disciplinary infractions in the classroom? To infuse more technology into your teaching? To begin or complete an advanced degree? The list of potential “wants” is endless. Identify a few that really matter to you. Aside from all the externally imposed - and very important - expectations, what do you want for and from yourself this school year?

D: Doing. One of the core principles of Choice Theory is that all behavior is purposeful. We behave in an effort to achieve what we want. Once you have identified what you want, determine what you need to do to turn your goal(s) into reality. Having a clearly identified want is necessary, but not sufficient. Life doesn’t simply happen to us. If you want something, you need to develop clarity about what you need to do to achieve it.

E: Evaluation. How will you know if you have achieved what you want (or are heading in the right direction)? Some goals are more easily evaluated. If you have a goal of making  contact with the family of each student, you can objectively track your progress. Some goals are less tangible. Suppose, for example, you want to enjoy even better relationships with your professional colleagues. How will you measure it? What criteria will inform you of your progress so you can effectively self-evaluate. Ongoing self-evaluation helps you maintain what’s working or change your actions to become more effective.

P: Plan. Words, theory, and ideas are nice, but don’t mean much unless they are put into action. With a new school year about to begin, what’s your specific plan of action to become more like the educator you’d like to be? When will you begin? If you don’t commit to a specific plan, are you likely to have the kind of professional experience you want for yourself this year? How badly do you want what you say you want? Enough to think about it? Talk about it? Do it? Creating and implementing an action plan will help you experience the success you want for yourself.

Lots of people in various roles will expect things from you this school year. As a teacher, you’ll identify expectations for your students. That’s the way it works. I encourage you to go beyond the experience of external expectations this year and identify your own set of internally generated expectations.

Note: You can read more about this topic in Chapter 14 (“Create Your Professional Identity”) of The Motivated Student: Unlocking the Enthusiasm for Learning.

As always, if you enjoyed this and found it useful, please send the link to your friends. Thanks.

Bob Sullo

For information about books by Bob Sullo and to schedule a keynote, workshop, or series for your school, agency, or parent group visit www.internalmotivation.net

Friday, August 9, 2013

"My Daughter Can Be A Bit Of A Bully:" Part 2

Here are some additional thoughts after I received the following question from a parent.

My daughter can be a bit of a bully at times. When she plays games with friends if she doesn't get her way, she gets real bossy. I can tell from her friends' faces that this really annoys them. I can't get my daughter to change her behavior and want to help her before she loses these friends. Suggestions?

When your child is behaving in an unacceptable way – even doing something as distasteful as bossing or bullying  - it helps to remember that everybody is doing the best they can at that moment to meet their needs. It may be difficult to believe, but your child doesn’t know a better way to get what they want. As clumsy, awkward, or inappropriate as they may be, what you see represents their best shot at that moment. Part of our job as parents is to help our kids develop better, more elegant, responsible ways to meet their needs. Rather than choosing to be upset and frustrated by our children’s unwanted behavior, we can say to ourselves, “This is the best they can do right now. They don’t know any better. It’s not OK and I won’t sanction this behavior. My job as a parent is to help my kids develop the resources to meet their needs responsibly.” When parents remind themselves that their kids are works in progress - not just “being bad” -  they are better able to teach and guide them, even when kids display inappropriate – but very typical – behavior.

It would be nice if our kids always behaved exactly as we’d like, but that’s not the way it works. How parents choose to deal with the expected bumps along the way will play a significant role in how things play out. When your children struggles, use it as an opportunity to teach them a better way to get what they want. That’s one essential quality of an effective parent. 

Note: This was originally published by Funderstanding. Their newsletter is free and includes interesting, useful ideas for both educators and parents. I encourage you to subscribe.

As always, if you enjoyed this and found it useful, please send the link to your friends. Thanks.

Bob Sullo

For information about books by Bob Sullo and to schedule a keynote, workshop, or series for your school, agency, or parent group visit www.internalmotivation.net

Don't forget to get your copy of the revised edition of The Inspiring Teacher: Making A Positive Difference In Students' Lives.