Month: July 2015

How To Build Motivation

Does the skill of motivating others come naturally, or can it be learned? What gets you out of bed in the morning – particularly, during the holidays? The attraction of a nice warm bed and a book is often a stronger pull than being up and outside – especially if the British summer has arrived in the form of endless rain! The cosiness and precious opportunity to dwell in another world for a few hours can far outweigh the more mundane world that awaits us. For others, that first glint of daylight is all that is needed to be up, showered and outside ready to tackle the multitude of jobs that have accumulated over the term. Staying in bed for even a minute after waking would be unthinkable! What we find satisfying, we find motivating. But we all find different things satisfying, don’t we? What one person finds enjoyable another finds unpleasant. One person’s Marmite is another’s disgusting black goop. So, what motivates different students? Some teachers believe that education should be its own reward, …

Spring Cleaning

In order to let in fresh air, sometimes it’s necessary to get rid of the clutter. My mother was somewhat compulsive when it came to clothes and found it hard to resist new temptations. Vintage stores were a particular weakness. If an item seemed a bargain, that was often enough reason to acquire it – even if there were already several similar items at home. The problem she then had was to find space to store her new purchases. The fact was that most of it she never wore, mostly because of duplication – and there were so many clothes I’m sure she didn’t remember everything she had bought. Ironically, despite the quantity accumulated, she did not always have the outfits she needed for all occasions. I think that another version of this can happen in schools. Schools can be dazzled by the marketing of the next ‘answer’ – or perhaps choose a little desperately, with metaphorically crossed fingers, overwhelmed by the scale of the problem and the range of competing ‘solutions’. The end result …

Two for company – three for learning

Do we underestimate the importance of instruction? We quite rightly value the relationship between the teacher and the student. It forms the basis of everything that we want to achieve as teachers. Learning can thrive where there is trust and security; conversely, it is very difficult to learn when you feel stressed and anxious. As trusted adults, we need to ensure safety, respect, acknowledgment, encouragement and boundaries, so that children can focus on what school is supposed to be about: learning. I want to suggest something that on the one hand seems so obvious but on the other often seems to be overlooked. In order for learning to occur, there is a third element in the interaction besides the teacher and the student – the instruction. As teachers we can tend to see ourselves as central to the instruction. It’s important to be able to separate ourselves, both emotionally and logically, if we want to critique and improve our practice. I have learned that with good instructional design, whoever teaches the lesson, the student will learn. There …