If you saw my post last time about Sullo’s book, then you already know how important I think motivation is and what I have noticed in the school where I was observing. If you haven’t seen this, click here.
The last post was only after reading the first half of the book, so I was still missing a lot of different ways to motivate students. Now after reading the second half, there is so much more I can do in the classroom. One thing is connecting the content to the students. I can ask questions like “What would you do if you knew this character?” I never thought about how that could motivate students. Now I see why. It makes them engage with the text and it opens their imagination to take what they know one step farther. I haven’t seen too much of this in Mrs. Mitchell’s class, but I am sure it would really help. As I mentioned before, BKid is a hard student to engage, and he isn’t the only one in that class. Questions that engage them with what they are reading would really help. Unfortunately, all they have been reading is poems and short stories rather than novels.
Sullo continues on to say that realistic expectation can help with motivation. I completely agree with this. I have experienced unrealistic expectations in my experiences in school, and it gives me that “I don’t care” attitude that teachers want to avoid. Sullo says, “Adopt the practice of grading students based on their current performance compared to past performance,” (107). This is something that Mrs. Mitchell does. She told me that it might be harder in a public school, but she grades students based on how far they have come. The students may be making huge grammar mistakes in the paper, but the ideas may be more coherent than they ever were, so they still get a good grade. Obviously this creates the challenge of personalizing the learning and remembering where all the students are with their writing. I make write notes about the students that will help me remember when I am bringing this into my own classroom.
Like Sullo said in an earlier chapter, fulfilling students basic needs is critical when creating a lesson. One of these needs is fun. The students need to be having fun when they are learning, but I think that is easier said than done. I return to BKid, and easy example for lack of motivation. I saw him come alive during an activity in his French class. Mrs. Mitchell had students use empty ice cream containers to review prepositions. She would say the preposition in French, and the students would need to use the containers to demonstrate what it meant. BKid was smiling and enthusiastic, pointing vigorously in different directions. I was so excited to see him this engaged in an activity, but then the game ended and his energy ended with it. I believe I already used this example, but it is a good one when looking at motivation.
Something that I really want to focus on when I go off into the teaching world involves a model Sullo includes in chapter 13. The model is three circles, one large one with a smaller one inside and a smaller one inside that one. The large one is “nice to know,” the next in “important to know,” and the smallest is “essential to know.” Sullo says that we need to focus on the two smaller ones, which completely makes sense. I’m not sure Mrs. Mitchell was always focused on the essential and important information, and that’s why she may have lost students interests, or if she did, she did not emphasize that it was essential or important. I would need to look back into my field notes and really read to see what was essential and important in her lessons. Some classes it was obvious, but in others, I am unsure. I will need to seriously focus to make sure that it is obvious in all of my lessons what is important and essential, and occasionally throw in the “nice to know” information.
The final thing that Sullo points of is our “professional identity.” This is something that I am beginning to construct. I am learning about many different pedagogies and trying to determine how and what I want to teach. In one of my classes, I did some serious work with identity construction that completely surprised me. I did not know how many identities I had and what truly helped me create them. It also made me think about what I will use to create my professional identity. I have already been constructing bits and pieces even before I began my AED classes. Sullo uses Bob Wubbolding’s WDEP model when talking about the professional identity. This acronym stands for “W: Identify what you Want,” “D: Determine what you are Doing to achieve you goals,” “E: Evaluate your progress,” and “P: Plan how to maintain your success or improve your performance,” (155). The one thing I definitely know that I want is to have students not necessarily love Shakespeare but at least enjoy something from the unit and take something from what we did with which ever play we are looking at. I have not yet determined what I will do to create this, but I am slowly thinking of different ideas that will get me there. I feel like WDEP is a great resource to use so that I am always improving and striving to reach my own personal goals as a teacher.