An easy to do item sat on my to do list for about two weeks. It was something new to try, it was unknown. How would it be received? How would I find the time to talk to everyone involved?
"Get Out of DUTY Free Cards"- that what was written there for two weeks.
Making the cards was easy, passing them out was fun! It also gave me a chance to check in with each of the 19 Class Assistants, whom I supervise. So, why did I wait so long?
It comes down to trying something new, leaving the status quo behind. This little gesture of taking a duty for each of the Class Assistants made a big impact. One of the Class Assistants said, "Is it Christmas again?" Another said, "Really, you are going to do my duty?" Another said, "Thank you, I need this!" The reactions were priceless and gave us a moment to smile together, to connect.
The Class Assistants have a lot of supervision duties, beyond their classroom responsibilities. They often feel unheard and underappreciated. I wanted to reach out in a small way to say thank you. When the Class Assistants "cash in" their cards, it will also give me a great excuse to walk in their shoes for 60 minutes. See supervision from their angle, allowing me to listen with different ears and see with different eyes.
The first card was "cashed in" to take a duty to give someone a break they really needed to regroup and get organized. This break for them was the busy most high impact learning situation I have been in in quite some time. I shadowed to a student for an hour during Portuguese class, a language that I do not speak. This child taught me a lot...he reverted to behaviors that are not seen as frequently any more. But I was ready because I had his behavior chart and reward in hand for when he showed the good behaviors. Well, the behavior chart was ripped in two before we could even review the first goal, one minute later an eraser was in his mouth, shoes and socks were sneakily taken off under the desk and for the grand finale he went running down the hallway. Wow...action packed hour (which I must record that I was wearing heels, already out stepping out of my comfort zone, making the sprint even more challenging for me)! There were sweet and tender moments intertwined throughout the unexpected ones...the child turned off the lights for the class as he was asked to do, sat with me to watch a short video and whispered "I love you" while rubbing my arm, and the child passed out erasers to all the other children so nicely. There were moments that were great!
The final moment came when a colleague walked by and asked if I needed help shortly after my sprint, in heels. I calmly accepted and we all sat together in the hallway for a moment trying to help the child understand why he needs to wear shoes at school. The child took the teacher's name tag and the child proclaimed, "I am Miss K!" That was where we were able to break through and get an in with reason. "OK! Teachers wear shoes and have to be with the students," we said. The child understood, got his socks and shoes on and walked to the assembly with the others. WOW again! He then danced and sang to his favorite song as the year three students presented their learning to the tune of "Don't Let me Down." The day ended with a high five and fist bump.
So, in conclusion, I have a lot to learn and was thankful for the opportunity of the staff member cashing in their Get Out of DUTY Free Card. Why did I wait two weeks to cross it off my list? I wonder what learning the other 18 cards have in store for me?!?!
We all know that carrots and sticks only work to motivate people for some things, sometimes and do not work well in the long run; yet many families and schools are based on this concept:
If you turn in your homework, you get to go to recess.
If you study hard, you get a good grade.
If you clean your room, you get dessert.
If you do this, you get that.
Some carrots are directly connected to the stick and others are more random. Either way, it boils down to bribing people to do something; taking the intrinsic love for the task at hand away.
Learning because it is fun and challenging to try, try and keep trying!
Cleaning our rooms because there is a freshness and sense of order.
After reading Drive, by Daniel Pink, many of the aspects to intrinsic motivation became clearer to me. He outlines that people need autonomy, mastery and purpose to have intrinsic motivation in place. These three concepts he calls the "nutrients" of a Type I (intrinsically motivated person).
As educators, who mostly grew up with the carrot and stick model, we need to carefully review our practises starting with our words and actions at 7:30 in the morning when we walk on to campus. Changing our culture from promoting extrinsically motivated children to intrinsically motivated children is a huge challenge. Daniel Pink states, "All kids start out as curious self directed Type Is. But many end up as disengaged compliant Type Xs (extrinsically motivated person)."
When planning Professional Learning for the teachers I work with, my goal is for them to love coming! I do not want them to come because they are required to in order to fulfill the requirements of their pay checks. I want them to come because they want to. I need to be sure that the nutrients for Intrinsic motivation are in place: autonomy, purpose and mastery. When planning this most recent session, I thought about each nutrient, how can I address this need?
Autonomy: How can I create space for self-guided learning?
Purpose: Why will this learning matter in the big picture and benefit others?
Mastery: We are starting our PYP journey, what are the foundations that we need to learn?
The 2 1/2 hour Professional Learning was mostly self-directed. I found many resources (articles and videos) on two foundational concepts of the PYP- international mindedness and the learner profile. The teachers worked with the resources how they learn best: by themselves, in groups, listening and watching or reading. In the given amount of time to learn, they explored the concepts that lead to mastery of PYP and provide purpose to education. At first, the room was silent and every started reading by themselves, after a while, I heard some people start talking and by the second topic started, the teachers were learning and sharing. I heard one teacher say, "Look at this great blog I found! This teacher has such a great idea with a terrarium to collect student ideas." Some teachers were sharing headphones to watch and discuss videos together, some teachers drew their ideas on the tables to who their thinking, some teachers read an article paragraph by paragraph with a partner. I believe that all the nutrients were in place and teachers responded expressing intrinsic motivation to learn and participate in the Professional Learning.
I hope that teachers can take some of these practices and feelings into their classrooms and we can continue to build a culture of intrinsic motivation.