Motivating students and adults
Motivation is at the heart of learning. Our challenge as teachers is to motivate our students to learn and our challenge as (teacher) leaders is to motivate our colleagues and other professionals. Are the motivating factors and strategies that work for our students effective for our professional colleagues as well?

The learning objectives need to be meaningful
Projects in which students do original work can be wonderful learning experiences, because doing work that has not been done previously fosters feelings of usefulness and self-confidence. It is important to create room in our curriculum for original work to encourage and honor creative thinking. Hands-on subjects in which most projects are original and useful in their purpose provide these learning experiences and therefore are important factors in our students’ motivation to learn. William Copperthwaite (2002) says, “ Building original work into a program can be done with positive results from Kindergarten through graduate school. (Sadly, many doctoral students are still jumping through academic hoops. What a loss to them personally and to society as a whole that they were never guided during their student years into work that is exciting, creative and a benefit to humanity)”. (P 64)
In my opinion, the most important motivational strategy a teacher can utilize to hook students and adults into the learning objectives is by explaining WHY. Copperthwaite says, “ If we can create an atmosphere conducive to learning, we set the stage for the enjoyment of learning”. (P 64)
In all my classes, I start my introductions by setting the goals for that particular class. Each student receives a handout containing my goals for the class and each student enters into a contract with me in which we establish our expectations of each other. Before each lesson, I also write down the sub goals on the board and I discuss them with my students. For my industrial design students, I use a different strategy. Because this is an individualized program in which the students choose their own projects, I have them make out their own goal sheets and I have them make a five-day work plan at the beginning of each week. They also have to fill out a daily log in which they describe their challenges, successes, and activities for that day. At the end of the week, they evaluate their five-day plan with what they have actually achieved, based on their daily logs. They then have to write down a short explanation of what worked well and what didn’t work so well and why.
As teachers we often have to do tasks that do not directly support the learning objectives. A lot of non-teaching tasks, such as disciplinary strategies, are top-down decisions. Students do not like this kind of decision making in class, nor do teachers. If a school wants its staff members to be part of a professional learning community, they must be included in the decision-making process in order to be motivated to buy into it. Teachers need to be motivated as well. If students need good teachers to motivate them, then good teachers must also be motivated to stay in the classroom and to improve their practices by educating themselves.
In a study the authors researched the relationship between the principal and the intrinsic motivation of the teachers: “The study indicated that good administrators have a positive effect on the motivation of their teachers, especially when giving them some measure of control over their programs. Principals should encourage their teachers and allow them to have a voice in decisions, particularly if the desired outcome is to have a competent staff of intrinsically motivated professionals”. (Davis, & Wilson, 2000)

Success needs to be visualized
To make the students aware of the connection between their effort and their success, I take many pictures of their projects, from beginning to end. When the product is finished, I have them make a power-point presentation along side the final product. By documenting the process, we celebrate the success of their efforts.
Teachers who enter professional development, need to be mandated to reflect on their newly acquired knowledge and when success has been accomplished, they need to share this success and celebrate it with their colleagues. Reflection and sharing are the key words here!

Establishing a supportive environment
Teacher-student interactions should be based on genuine caring and mutual respect. A motivating learning environment is one that is safe, inviting and exciting. The teacher needs to create a classroom climate, which is positive and supportive.
Having an effective classroom management, where rules are clear and students know that I do not tolerate any violations of these rules, is an example of establishing a supportive environment. By using these rules, students feel comfortable and safe, which is what I want. I am also patient and do not force the students to use any machines they are not comfortable with. However, I do encourage them to use the machines but leave it to them to make that decision. I also let all my students know from the beginning that it is ok to make mistakes, which will help them learn.
For teachers these conditions are equally important. A supportive environment means an environment where everybody’s opinion is respected, where openness is stimulated, where communication is transparent, where there is clarity with regard to expectations, tasks and roles, an environment where teachers can feel safe. A well-functioning peer coaching system can be an important supportive tool. “Peer coaching is a partnership that can assist teachers in the improvement of instruction by engaging in the study of the teaching craft and build collegiality among pairs of teachers”. (Carr. 2005, p. 91) Making mistakes should be part of their learning process and teachers should not be punished by punitive evaluations or by receiving negative letters in their files. An isolated teacher will not learn from mistakes nor will he/she become a positive role model for the students.

Choice and interest
Perhaps the most motivating strategy I use with my students is giving them (free) choice, based on their interests, capabilities and learning styles. Within my curriculum, I try to give my students ample opportunities to choose. Making ones own decisions forces one to become accountable, which is crucial if our overall objective is to produce independent learners. The problem-based learning approach is a strategy I use in my curriculum. I present my students with unclear (sometimes complex) problems for which the sky is the limit when it comes to finding solutions. According to Tomlinson (1999), this strategy, “calls upon varied learning strengths, allows use of a range of resources, and provides a good opportunity for balancing student choice with teacher coaching. It also offers an opportunity to address student readiness, interest and learning profile.” (p. 92)
The same variety of interests, abilities and personalities that we find in our student body also exists among our staff members. I believe that staff development should be both mandatory and voluntary, depending on interests and leadership qualities. For example, teachers should be obliged to choose for a leadership team, but they should be given the choice of which team they want to join. Unfortunately, in many districts only a few teachers are becoming teacher leaders (designated by administrators or not). As a result few faculty members are assuming responsibility for improvements in the district.

Immediate feedback
How often have we been motivated to do something just to hear the feedback from people regarding our achievement? I have personally gone through hardship and challenges and could not wait to hear other people’s opinions about my work. How disappointing is it then when there is no feedback, or the feedback comes late and becomes irrelevant to our learning? Feedback for our students needs to be timely and based on given criteria. Do not all our students hear the term, “good job!” at least a thousand times in their school carrier? But what exactly does a good job mean?
Marzano ET. Al. (2001) state that, “providing students with feedback in terms of specific levels of knowledge and skill is better than simply providing students with a percentage score. One powerful set of tools to this end is rubrics”. For each assignment in my classes, my students receive a rubric in which the requirements of the assignments are stated. The motivating effect of these rubrics is that students have control over the outcome of their projects and the feedback they are given implies much more than just “good job!”
Although many teachers receive evaluation forms, which are comparable to the rubrics used for students, these forms do not motivate teachers to improve if they are given at the very end of the school year. Timely feedback from observations, especially when these observations are intended to help the teacher improve his/her craft, can be a powerful motivator, for it stimulates reflection, which will lead to an improvement of their instructional practices.
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