8.23.2010

Drive - Connecting to Education Part 3 - Lessons from the Type I Toolkit

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates UsI like trilogies. Star Wars (Episodes IV-VI), The Lord of Rings, and the Godfather series all come into mind as some favorites over my lifetime. Since I've taken the time to prepare a post for each of the first two parts of Daniel Pink's book, Drive, and there just happens to be a third part, why not take the opportunity to complete the first trilogy of posts in Chanatown? Unlike Godfather III, I hope that this part three ends on a high note.

The third part of Drive contains the toolkit that offers ways to improve your Type I (Intrinsic Motivation) drive. There are several intended audiences in this part, including educators, and I found it interesting to read about several of his ideas as they were spot on with what I was reflecting about in my first two posts. Here are a few more of my notables for educators:

Flow Test
In my first post about Daniel Pink, I described how his three principles helped me understand why I love my job. After reading Drive and becoming more familiar with Csikszentmihalyi's work on Flow, I've realized that this is exactly what has happened to me and my work. I'm in a more continuous state of flow, work has become play, and I have a true sense of autonomy, mastery, and purpose. As a classroom teacher, I know that I have reached a similar state, and my colleagues do the same regularly. What about our students? How often are they experiencing flow in an average school day, and how does this impact their intrinsic motivation?

Performance Review
The answer to the student flow test may be revealed when a teacher gives herself a performance review. At the end of each semester and more frequently at the beginning of the year, I would offer my students the opportunity to reflect on their classroom experience and give me suggestions on how I could improve my teaching. I felt confident that students would give me honest feedback, and I would always find a few things to implement immediately. I always made sure that I acknowledged any changes that came out of my students' suggestions.

Autonomy Audits
I really believe that the lack of autonomy is a major cause for student apathy especially when they get to the high school. Everything seems to be planned for the students, from the design of the building's hallways to the daily bell schedule to the 10 and 2 lesson planning. I'm not saying that all of it has a negative effect, but I would like to advocate for more student input and giving them a say in how their school is organized. Certainly, we can offer this opportunity in the classroom, and undergoing an autonomy audit can help get the process started.

Nine Ideas for Helping our Kids
Some of this was touched upon in earlier posts, but Pink offers numerous suggestions for education including:
  • Re-evaluating homework - I mentioned this in post #2, and I see many colleagues allowing for more autonomy in their assignments.
  • Offering "FedEx days" - I think open-ended projects can be a great way to promote engagement in learning. Some students will need more structure than others, but if done well, all students can be motivated.
  • Shifting towards self assessed learning goals - as a society, we still lean heavily on grades. However, I always liked having my students assess their effort for each unit, as well as discuss what grade they thought they deserved. With this in mind, we then examined their actual grade and discussed any discrepancies and the reasoning behind any differences.
  • Improving how we distribute praise - at ETHS, we're pushing the Effective Effort movement, and it all starts with teachers, and how we interact with our students. But, as with any strong movement, it is contagious, and we are already seeing the benefits spread from classroom to classroom.
  • Turning students into teachers - I'll take this statement to my retirement - "I didn't really learn Chemistry until I taught it to someone else." For our students, that teaching can be to each other, to a lower level student, to a younger student, or back to the entire class. Regardless of the audience, getting students to explain concepts verbally, visually, and deeply can only help with their retention.  
Lastly, Pink offers up some great reads, many of which I have now placed on my own "to-read" shelf.

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