Motivation Revisited

I reviewed the book Drive by Daniel Pink here a few months ago and it’s funny as I read our newest version of our faculty handbook, much of that research isn’t being utilized. People will generally spend hours at something they love to do if they are genuinely motivated – that is not by carrots and sticks, but rather intrinsically. Yet, as Pink mentions many businesses run by the carrots and sticks.

I’ve been working with some pretty dedicated teachers who have spent a lot of time setting up their classrooms for the beginning of the school year. And working hard not because they ‘have to’ but because they really want their classrooms to be welcoming for their student’s arrival.

It’s not that big a deal to have a list of “you have to do this” in the big rule book, but it’s not the most motivating thing. I know in most of our classrooms, we have a general framework (our school’s mission), but we have the students involved in making up the class rules, behavior expectations, and work ethic. It’d be nice if the faculty handbook I received yesterday had a similar format. But I understand the need for a growing small organization to have that in place.

I find it interesting whether it’s committees, after school clubs, or other things, how it’s the same people who volunteer. When it becomes a ‘have to’ will these volunteers do so less, the same, or more? Will those who don’t suddenly step up? I wonder if it’s worth doing a little action research project.

I just cracked open my Ed. Leadership copy which arrived in the mail and was pleased to find two things.

1) I submitted an article for this issue – no, it did not get published. One of the scholars I cited, Cathy Vatterott (the homework lady herself) was published instead. What was I thinking?

2) Carol Dweck, who’s work on Mindsets I adore has an article titled “Even Geniuses Work Hard.”

I can’t wait to write and share about some of these articles in here, but it’ll have to wait. There’s still a classroom to set up.

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One thought on “Motivation Revisited

  1. I worked in a very exciting school years ago where leadership was not top-down but truly democratic. The model was (and is) called “Site-Based Management” which involved all shareholders, parents, students, faculty, staff and administrators as equal participants. Because we were allowed to develop and run our own committees, with approved Action Plans and timelines, folks volunteered lovingly and passionately, countless hours to the school. We all answered to the “Site-Based Management” body as a whole one time per month, which was similar to the House of Representatives. I was “Nancy Pelosi”, serving as Chairperson, along with an assistant Chair. Buy-in was huge. Energy was high and much was accomplished in those years. Then “No Child Left Behind” arrived and the old top-down model re-surfaced. It was not a time of “have to” but an era of “want to.” It worked, morale soared and much was accomplished in those years. I think our administrators never looked so well-rested too.

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