(203) 453-5067 Laura@HandleEducation.com

Fostering Intrinsic Motivation-Allowing Choice

    In a previous blog post, I described the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Research has demonstrated that external rewards are ineffective for long-term positive results whether in the academic realm or the workplace. But internal goals can boost the ability to achieve. As early as fifty years ago, James Coleman,from Johns Hopkins University, found that students’ attitudes regarding the amount of  control they had over their lives directly affected their achievement. Fast forward to the present, and this concept of self determination has not yet been fully integrated into our educational system.  According to a recent article in Educational Leadership, high school dropouts often feel that external forces control their lives: They are “buffeted by fate.”  One important element in fostering a sense of control is CHOICE. Bryan Goodwin cites a meta-analysis form 2012: ” . . . feeling in control of one’s life, combined with academic self-efficacy and goal orientation, accounted for roughly 20% of the variance in university students’ grade point average.”  So, how can teachers help students take control of their learning? They can provide choice in their classrooms. Teachers can empower their students in active learning by allowing them to participate in their education. Rather than engaging in  authoritarian behavior, in which students have no options, authoritative teachers provide opportunities that engender a love of larding.  These choices can range from the  electives they choose to the order in which  students complete assignments to the types and scope of projects they will submit. Even small choices can affect students’ attitudes. Helping students learn that they have control over their lives is one of the most valuable lessons for school and… Read More »

Attending to Attention: Providing “Brain Breaks”

According to Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, the ability to focus is imperative to mastering cognitively demanding tasks. Certainly, absorbing challenging academic content requires deep work. Trying to do so in an environment that provides a multitude of distractions such as a classroom can be a daunting undertaking.  The first step a teacher can take to optimizing the classroom environment involves communicating clear and fair behavior guidelines before content instruction begins.  Once the teacher establishes and reinforces desired classroom decorum, students can pay attention, and the essential work of instruction can begin. A recent article in Edutopia by Dr. Desautels, a professor of education, highlights the importance of attention, because students need to be calm and focused in order to absorb new material. Breaking content into smaller segments is an effective means to absorb content.  When instructing students on time management at home,  I suggest that they spend no more than 45 minutes on any particular task without taking a short three to five minute break. Physical movement like stretching or going to the kitchen for a drink of water can help avoid fatigue. It can also avoid overstimulating the brain, which can lead to a loss of attention. Dr. Desautels suggests providing brief “brain breaks” in a classroom. “We can use brain breaks and focused-attention practices to positively impact our emotional states and learning. They refocus our neural circuitry with either stimulating or quieting practices that generate increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, where problem solving and emotional regulation occur.”  This short break can actually help process the information. Incorporating brain breaks… Read More »

If schools were permitted to have just one training, this is the one!

This training will help to raise test scores for your students, decrease discipline challenges, and improve classroom rapport. You will learn how to meet students where they are and lead them where they need to be, capture attention, and promote deeper learning.