Students + Control = Motivation = Teacher – Control?
Here’s the thing about control… It’s difficult to share. I actually don’t know if it can be shared. It can definitely be distributed though.
When I learned to drive, my instructor had one of those cars that had a brake and a clutch on the passenger’s side as well as the driver’s side. If and when she felt I was not in control, she could take control of the situation by bringing the car to a stop. Either I was in control or she was.
Control is one of the 5 factors of student motivation according to Malone and Lepper (1987). Hattie (2009) has also acknowledged the link between student control of the learning and high motivation. It makes sense, doesn’t it; no one likes being dictated to nor do we like having our skills/talents/dispositions ignored.
In order to give our students control, we’re going to have to give up some control. How do we do that without ending up with a Lord of the Flies scenario on our hands?
1. Be a ‘Yes’ person – This point acknowledges @Stephen_H and his “Yes, and…” quote. What if we applauded student innovation and initiative when they choose to do something differently with “Yes, and…“? As I’m visualising doing this with my students, especially certain students, I can already see the engagement, the excitement and the enthusiasm. And, we all know that enthusiasm is contagious. Here’s a great article about the power of ‘yes’.
2. Ask Students Stuff – Don’t just quiz your students about content that you’ve taught; start by asking them what they’d like to learn about. Involve them in designing the inquiry and learning experiences. Ask them how they like to learn and how they learn best. Allow them to make decisions about their learning space and about the school.
I love that when NBCS began the new process of developing a positive learning framework, we began by discussing it with our students. When developing a new integrated inquiry unit last year, I gave some Year 3/4 students the outcomes, showed them some of the activities that the teachers had developed and then I pooled their lesson ideas… man, their ideas were GOLD! They suggested that a good assessment of whether they understood how different cultures celebrate the New Year would be to have a #MysterySkype session with a class in another country and ask them to describe their New Year celebrations – if the students guessed correctly, they’ve demonstrated the outcome… and without any marking or paper!
3. Just Start – What’s The Worst That Could Happen?- What if, tomorrow, when you get into the learning space, you let the students choose their best place to learn? What if you said to your students “I don’t mind how you demonstrate that you understand ____________”? What if you told your students that they can learn that outcome how ever they want? Sure, you might have to jump in… but, you might not. I predict that the worst that could happen is that 1 or 2 students may not demonstrate that outcome and who’s to say they would have demonstrated it anyway.
I’m handing the reins to you now… when will you hand them over to your students?