Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Ever have those days where you drive into school… and don’t remember the drive?

Welcome to Autopilot: Acting without any self-awareness or engagement in your activity. Do we want our students on autopilot when following the routine and rules? Yes. During instruction and activities? Well, not so much.

If our students are on autopilot during instruction, they are simply going through the motions.  And there is nothing motivating about completing a predictable and simplistic task that requires an autopilot response. It’s time to take our students off cruise control, and switch them into high gear.

--> Pillar 5: Raise the Bar 

To promote higher achievement and keep students motivated, we need to:

1.     Establish Goals

One of the best ways to motivate students to reach higher and work harder is to set goals. Goals set purpose and give students that finish line to race towards.

Being a Special Education Teacher and monitoring goals on IEP’s, I tend to take goal writing rather seriously. There are certain components goals must have; without these components, you are simply creating “fluff” that may look good on paper, but will not be motivating to your students. 

Make Your Goals:

a.     Attainable – Via the child’s current ability, and length of time allotted to achieve
b.     Clear – Focused, simplistic, easy to monitor and report, easy for students and parents to understand 
c.      A Flexible Discussion – Create and share goals with students, and adjust as necessary to ensure they are attainable and clear
d.     An Accomplishment – Encourage, acknowledge, and reward students when goals are achieved

 2.    Adjust Instruction Levels

We never want our students to become too comfortable with the expectations and requirements of their work. Comfort = Autopilot. If we continue to adapt our instruction to create activities that are a level slightly higher than student ability, our students will continue to have something to strive and work for. This also gives you an opportunity to differentiate your instruction to meet the needs of all of your students. 

 3.   Scaffold Instruction

If you intend on pushing your students to higher standards and expectations, be sure they have been prepared with the necessary skills to do so. Particularly, in regards to those students who may need a little extra time and support. So model your strategies and instruction while gradually giving your students more ownership and independence over the content. 

 4.   Provide Positive Feedback

If I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again.

Praise + Positive Feedback + Encouragement  
Confident Independent Motivated Learners!  

So this concludes my personal “5 Pillars of Motivation.”  I look forward to sharing with you my ideas and experiences that reflect these pillars, as we embark on the journey to encourage, inspire, and motivate the minds of our students!

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