to Create Self-Motivated Learners
Dr. Kathie F. Nunley
One of the most
popular requests I get from schools and teachers is help with classroom
management and dealing with a room full of reluctant learners. I
have always found that if you create the right classroom environment,
motivation and behaviors tend to take care of themselves. So how
do you create a classroom that promotes self-motivation in students?
It actually comes down to three simple student perceptions - choice,
competence and a sense of community.
It starts with
viewing yourself, the classroom teacher, as a leader of people,
not a manager of student behavior. Of course, we need to hold student
accountable for their behavior, but our goal is to inspire self-accountability,
not micro-manage behaviors. Teachers act as leaders when they set
a vision of how the learning environment should look and explain
the learning goals, then allow the students to move along their
own path, within the defined boundaries and timeframes.
This means we
need to give students the perception that they have some control
and choice in the learning process. The easiest way to do that is
by setting a learning goal, then offering assignment suggestions
that students can choose from to reach the goal. One of the fundamental
keys to Layered Curriculum has always been student CHOICE. State
the goal, offer assignment choices and then consider the assignment
"completed" when the student has met the learning objective.
The second perception
required for self-motivation is competence. Students need to feel
that the learning is do-able. Reluctant learners often have arrived
at that point through a history of failure and feelings of incompetence.
So again, it is critical that the teacher include enough variety
in the classroom assignment options that students of all abilities
and learning modalities can be successful at some level. Lessons
need to be challenging, but at least offer the perception of something
that can be done by each student.
must ensure a sense of classroom community. This means a safe environment
where students feel comfortable making mistakes as well as making
successes. Student collegial relationships and learning partners
are encouraged and promoted. Students need a sense of belonging.
One of the reasons I've been so enamored with oral defense is that
is allows me to build strong personal relationships with my students
and with each other.
So, you can
create self-motivated learners in any classroom simply be ensuring
the three necessary components - Choice, Feelings of Competence,
and a strong Community.
Dr Kathie Nunley is an educational psychologist, researcher and
author of several books on parenting and teaching, including A
Student's Brain (Brains.org) and the best selling, "Differentiating
the High School Classroom" (Corwin Press). She is the developer
of the Layered Curriculum® method of instruction and has worked
with parents and educators around the world to better structure
schools to make brain-friendly environments. In addition, her
work has been used by the Boeing Corporation, Family Circle Magazine,
the Washington Post, and ABC television.
her: Kathie (at) brains.org