Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Drive by Daniel Pink and Lesson Planning

The book Drive by Daniel Pink is changing my life.  I think this book is a must-read for all educators.

Three Elements of Motivation:

1) Autonomy 

We all want freedom.  How often have I dreamt of working part-time to have more freedom to do the things I want to do?  Most of the time my projects are school-related, but sometimes they're not.  When I don't have the freedom to work on the things I want to, I feel frustrated and overwhelmed.  Now, my first thought is, "suck it up, that's life".  But while reading this, I thought about how great it would be to not have someone telling me what to do every hour of my work life.  And wouldn't that be great for our students as well (within reason of course)?  Pink points out 4 areas of Autonomy.

  1. Technique
  2. Team
  3. Time
  4. Task

2) Mastery

People want to master things, they really do.  When I think of my projects, hobbies, and career, I can see the desire for mastery at work.  Why do many of us teachers blog?  To become better teachers.  Why do some people run 3+ days a week?  To become better runners.  What is the reward for doing these things?  Certainly not a bigger paycheck.  It's the desire to get better.  

3) Purpose

But the questions beg: Why do we want to be better teachers or runners?  What's our purpose?  I run to be healthy and honestly there's some vanity too :).  I want to be a better teacher because my job is important and has an impact on the future generation(s).  

Using the Three Elements of Motivation in Lesson Planning


1) Technique:  Let the students decide how they're going to accomplish their assignment.  They decide if it's analogue or digital.  Maybe it's a video, a puppet show, whatever.  

2) Team:  I don't think students should be allowed to pick their own groups willy-nilly, but I do believe they should have some input.  I had a lot of group-creating success this year with student-input.  First, I asked students to list their classmates that they work well with.  I emphasized that this was not a list of their friends, it was a list of the people they work well with.  From their suggestions I created their groups, making sure to separate students who I know don't work well together.  

Also, students have very little say as to who their teacher will be.  For example, I am the only Algebra 1B teacher in our district.  I have a student who prefers her teacher from last year and she does not want to be in my class.  She is cooperative and seems to have nothing against me, she just prefers a different teacher.  Is that so terrible?

3) Time:  In our school system we don't have a lot of leeway over time.  We are assigned a time slot in the day to meet with each group of students and that is that.  Period.  I struggle with this one and I think a lot of people do.  This is why so many of our students who leave for cyber school come back; they have not learned time-management yet.  Two years ago, I tried the flipped-mastery model in my classroom.  That's where the students could work through the curriculum at their own pace and I was there to help.  Many students wasted their time in class but also didn't complete their work at another time.  I could use some help on this one.

4) Task:  I'm trying to include more options for students to learn and practice in class.  I also try to hit each area in Bloom.  This way students have more of a say in which task they are going to complete, rather than me telling them exactly what to do that moment.  

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