Monday, May 29, 2017


Why is motivation in the classroom so important?  Just imagine a classroom without it, it would be disastrous. The students have no reason to try, their grades are down but why would they care. Homework is just a suggestion to them and coming to school for some is not even a thought. Do not just think that this affects the students, teachers are affected just as much as the students. Without motivation the teacher slacks off too, not properly teaching their own students and setting a bad example for their students. This is unfortunately the case in a lot of classrooms all over the world. Now let me tell you what my classroom looks like. Most students are doing what the teacher has told us to do, completing assignments and homework with as much effort as possible. Also  if the chance for extra credit pops up, everyone is on top of it trying to get it done. Our teacher is on top of her work to. Pre-planning each lesson making sure we can get the tasks for the day done. If you noticed, I am at a pretty good school, students care about learning and teachers care about students. I am fortunate enough to have never been exposed to a non motivated classroom. I can not imagine where I would be now if I was exposed to that. So how do we make all classrooms with motivation flowing out of it? I believe it all starts with the teachers.

I think teachers are just like parents but in a different environment.  Just like parents, teachers set examples for their students and should be teaching important life skills. There is a trust between the student and teachers just like the trust between a parent and child. The teacher should be motivated to teach on a regular basis, wanting to help their students understand what it is they are trying to learn. Doing this shows students that even when they are confused, they always have a helping hand, teaching the students about collaboration which is very important. Now what if that motivated student gets a non-motivated teacher next year, the one that does not bother to clarify the things for the students? That motivation that the student had begins to deteriorate, the important bond that he once had with his teachers begins to fade. The students begins to push themselves away from learning, feeling helpless because they do not understand the material. That student then has no motivation and become the student I described in the first paragraph. Just like a parent shapes who their kids are, a teacher forms who their students are.

Now in some cases the students must have the responsibility to do assignment they might not find interesting. There are always these types of assignments in every classroom. Even if the teacher tries to motivate their students for this, it may not work. This is when the students must find their own motivation. This had happened to me just like I am sure it has happened to everyone reading this blog
It was at the end of the school year and this was the final project. It was not the most interesting thing in the world but it was worth a lot of points. I slacked off doing the bare minimum at times. When it was time to preset the project I saw all the others with amazing visuals and lots of fun interactive things built into them. Then I presented. I was nervous and I talked really fast speeding through the little information I had. My final grade dropped and all the hard work I had done that year had not paid off because of that one project. I use that scenario to motivate me to work harder so that that would never happen again. Although, scaring myself to get things done may not be the best way to motivate myself, it has proved to be very effective.

Teachers may want to be motivation their student but may not know any effective ways to do so.
There are l lots of effective ways to motivate, starting off with the one I just mention. Scaring your students. I am not talking about the way you would on Halloween, I mean telling them about how important this certain assignment is and what could be the outcome if it is done improperly. I would use this one in moderation though because this can stress your students out when it is often unnecessary. Another method to motivate your students is to give small rewards. If you say that "if every students get an A or above on this test, we can watch a movie the next class, chances are a lot of the student are going to work their but off for that A. Change the size of the prize depending on how big or small the assignment is. These are both great ways to motivate your class and you can customize the methods to fit your class the best.

I am a student athlete along with many other students at my school and I have noticed that most of the student athletes get more stuff done than the students who do not play a sport. I think this is because the student athletes have a very small amount of time to get things done. On the other hand, the students who do not play sports have a lot more free time so the put it off. I am a natural procrastinator, I did often put things off because I had more time to do them. Now that I have sports I have less time to procrastinate and have no choice but to do my work right when I get home or It would never be finished. Also this does not only have to do with athletes, but with any student who does not have a lot of free time.

Motivation is not something that sticks with you for ever. That is why staying motivated about something over a long period of time is tricky. Like if you are assigned to read a book over a school break. You may start off my reading a lot, but then gradually begins to pull away. To prevent this from happening you have to go over why this certain thing is so important. I really liked this one quote I found explaining my point really well. “Of course motivation is not permanent. But then, neither is bathing; but it is something you should do on a regular basis.” To keep motivating, you should be re-visiting the motivation you initially had. If your a teacher and you have assigned a long term project that the students should be working on at home, while you guys learn other things in the class, Frequently go over that project and for example tell them about the prize they get if they all do really well on it. 

I hope that I have gotten my point across that motivation is an important piece in the puzzle of school. Without it school is not complete. it is the driving factors in Many peoples success in school and the key to hard work. There is no price tag on motivation, everyone can have it, people just have to go out and get it.

Ziglar, Zig. "Quotes about motivation." Good Reads. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2017.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Constructive Criticism in the Classroom

Often times in life we are criticized for our own thoughts and actions. People try to tell us who to be and who not to be, and I have had many accounts of this in my life and in school. There is a problem that teachers often criticize kids for being themselves and they are marked down for this. It kills students creativity and creativity is something that makes us different. It hurts to see red ink everywhere on a paper your teacher hands back, it often brings students down and results in them not wanting to try again. Thats why all teachers should always mention the good, not just the bad, so that students can always have a positive message planted in their mind.

I am fortunate enough to go to a school were teachers were usually very supportive and striving to make me the best I can possibly be, but that is not the case for other schools I have been to. I had a teacher in middle school who would constantly point out my errors but never try to fix them. It often left me discouraged me from trying to fix my mistakes because my own teacher did not make the effort to teach me the the right answer to the things I have gotten wrong. This is why teachers should always point out the good in their students work and always correct students answers by using the students strengths to their advantage. This is where the idea of "Recognize and reinforce" comes into play.

Recognize and reinforce comes from the fundamental five and is a mindset that I support because it is all about constructive criticism. Teachers should constantly be thinking about this mindset because it points out the strengths in their students rather then marking them down for them. A great example of this is in the book I'm reading "Walking on Water" by Derrick Jensen. Jensen used to be a high jump coach at north Idaho college. He always made his athletes focus on the positives when they were high jumping. For an example, he would say "Todd your leg strength is amazing, because you're popping way up in the air, and your form isn't really helping you." Rather than "Tod your form stinks."(Walking On Water, 2003) This allowed his athletes to focus on the positives rather then the negative. He must of known what he was doing because because all of his high jumpers became All-Americans or honorable mentions All-Americans. One even became national campion.

I believe many teachers want to point out the good in their students work but don't necessarily know had to approach the situation. I think one thing teachers can easily do to improve on when trying to accomplishment is to not use red ink. Seeing red ink on a paper that is a big thing that makes students want to stop and give up. This is because red is a really "loud" color and is usually associated with stoping. Another thing teachers can do to improve is to make positive notes. Going back to how Derrick Jensen coached his team, he always told his athletes their strengths and how they can use them to improve on things they went doing to good. Instead of writing " Your Character needs more detail" try writing " I really like what you have written here, its very creative! What other things does your character like to do? (Walking On Water, 2003) This way the student knows that they have done a good job and they can do even better. Also this doesn't always have to be on paper, it can be verbal too. If a student gives you their paper to read, complement them on the things they've done good on and suggestions on the things they could work on.

There is another really easy thing teachers can do to boost their students confidence. Simply cut back on the amount of markings on a paper. I know for a fact I would rather have a couple of notes on a paper telling me what I did wrong then a hundred little dots and dashes everywhere on my paper. When I see this it makes me think I have done a hundred things wrong and thats a worse feeling that thinking I have made two or three errors. Still if you do cut back on the markings, do not point out the things a student has done wrong, point out something they have done really well, then what they could work on. Cutting back on marking up a paper can also allow the students to read through their own paper without having a bunch of distracting marks on the paper.

I have gotten a lot of papers back with a lot of red ink, marks, and notes that are anything but motivating. I can tell you personally that when a student gets back a paper with these things, the results can be disastrous. When I am handed back a paper, I decide in the first second I see it if I really want to go over it. When I mean by that is that when I see red ink on a paper I do not even bother to read it because I know its just a bunch of things I could of done better but I did not. The red ink is just a huge stop sign in my head letting me know I have failed even before reading a word. When I read a note that tells me "You need to fix this" It just adds to the pile of misery caused by all the rest of the negative things I have read. After I have gone through the paper, it just makes me want to not participate in the rest of class, I am to caught up in all the things I have done wrong. "Why keep going? I already failed." Unfortunately that is my mentality that the paper implants in my brain. It even sets me up to fail for the rest of the day because I can only focus on the errors I have made.

I know I take grades in differently that other students, everyone does, but I know when a students get back a marked up paper. Their head is resting on their hand and in the other their holding the paper. They just stare at it asking themselves "what did I do wrong?" It is tough to move on, even from a paper with some marks on it, but it is. It is so easy to just take a little more time to point out the positives in students work, it may not look like it but it makes a huge impact on their confidence, which is one of the biggest things that impacts a students learning.


Cain, Sean, and Mike Laird. The Fundamental 5: The Formula for Quality Instruction. Place of Publication Not Identified: Publisher Not Identified, 2011. Print.

Jensen, Derrick. Walking on Water: Reading, Writing, and Revolution. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green, 2003. Print.