Friday, March 2, 2012
Intrinsic Motivation: How To Build On It, Not Kill It
My friend, Aimee Buckner Haisten, author of Notebook Know How and Notebook Connections once said to me, "When a colleague, parent, administrator, or student enters your classroom, he/she should know immediately what you value."
When you enter our classroom, you won't find charts with stickers or stars to signal who's read the most pages or is winning the contest for best spelling. You won't find papers with grades marked in red with the highest scoring papers hanging on the wall. You won't see rules posted anywhere or those "teacher supply store" motivational posters and quotes. You won't find supplies hoarded in individual desks, and a teacher's desk is nowhere to be found.
Why? I'm not a teacher who believes that students are motivated by points, grades, money, contests, fear, or any kind of extrinsic factor. What do I believe in? I believe in children and I work my hardest not to kill the intrinsic motivation students naturally bring with them to school. We can't ever force a child to be motivated, but we can create democratic, collaborative work spaces that stimulate curiosity, invite choice, and honor the children who live and learn there every single day.
I begin every year setting up the classroom with guiding principle #1 in my head and heart: Build On Intrinsic Motivation, and then allow the room to grow with the children from the first day of school. Below are a few pictures of our classrooms (both primary and middle school) over the past few years.....
It's a privilege to learn from my students and be intrinsically motivated to be a better teacher because of them.
And as Phyllis (my fabulous principal and friend) says...
To the possibilities of this next month of writing and learning from writers everywhere!