Monday, July 18, 2016

Challenge: Motivation in the Classroom

Challenge: Motivation in the Classroom

One of the biggest challenges that we have as educators is motivating students to learn.  Teaching unlike other professions involves a diverse group of people who come from different backgrounds and progress in their learning at different rates.  As teachers we are up for the challenge!  The million dollar question is how do we overcome that challenge.

I recently moved from a high school band director position to a middle school band director position.  I still have the same expectations of my students as I did as a high school director, but the way that I motivate students has drastically changed.  I have just climbed to one summit and discovered that the journey has just begun.  So now what?  What are the ways that I can motivate students in order to help them understand their full potential and reach their goals?  Intrinsic motivation.

Wonderful article of actual activities to do in the classroom to build intrinsic motivation.  Thank you David Palank.

Strategies to Build Intrinsic Motivation  

Intrinsic motivation is the "buy-in" for students.  Students find this type of motvation creates environments that are interesting and rewarding.  There are three main ideas about intrinsic motivation that I refer to often in class taken from Daniel Pink's book Drive: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Autonomy can be a challenge in the classroom, especially with a class as large as a band ensemble.  It can be done though.  By using the learning goals and concepts, students are able to discover their own ways to figure out how to achieve.  This gives them ownership over what they are accomplishing, and enables the teacher to have a clear idea of level of profiency the student is at.

Mastery is something that I use often in the band classroom.  Mastery is not a complete understanding of everything in the world.  I see mastery as a complete understanding of a given topic.  Students are asked to play the correct pitches throughout a selection of music.  Did they get the rhythms all correct?  Perhaps not, but by mastering the pitches, they were able to celebrate their accomplishments, thus building a strong sense of confidence and a preparedness to go after the next challenge.

Purpose is where we as educators connect our students to the real world.  Often in music the real world exists instantaneously as we are in preparation for a real world concerts.  Students have an authentic experience as they showcase their skills to an audience.  I often Livestream concerts has well to create an even broader real-world experience.  The connection of the performance to purpose gets the students discussing other reasons as to why we are working towards particular goals.  Understanding purpose increases student motivation to work hard and achieve!

Side Note...
"I am motivated by fun!!!" Let's agree what fun is in our classroom.

Success/Having Fun: Learning takes active participation. Through learning there are many exciting and fun discoveries we make. Having fun no longer is a passive activity on the surface. It happens when we achieve our goals and objectives. Through contributing to our own success we are able to come to a new understanding of "having fun!"

Final Thoughts

In accordance with Daniel Pink, we as people have natural desires to learn, to create, and to make the world a better place.  By tapping into these natural tendencies in the classroom, we are able to increase intrinsic motivation thereby opening up endless opportunities for our students to achieve.

Onward and inward...

*Definition links reference: Oxford Dictionary

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