In These 6 Things, I lay out an inside-out approach to student motivation that I think the research suggests. This approach hinges on five key beliefs, and I've written about them all over the blog, such as here, here, and here. If you're already familiar with them, go ahead and look away from the screen right now and try pulling them from memory. What are they?
Here they are:
- Credibility: This teacher is good at his job.
- Value: This work matters to me.
- Belonging: People like me do work like this. I “fit” in this lesson, this classroom, this community.
- Effort: My effort will pay off. I'll improve at this if I try.
- Success: I can succeed at this.
(For a good summary of how these things function, try this article.)
But there are a few things we have to be clear about as we move into working with these beliefs. In the video below, I discuss things that the beliefs are and are not, and in the bullet points beneath that I write a concise summary of these points.
- The beliefs are not cure-alls, but they are hugely influential and strongly at play in all learning environments, for better or worse. Understanding them empowers us, not understanding them impoverishes us and keeps us from having a lexicon for discussing motivation with colleagues.
- The beliefs are not fixed attributes of students (they're not labels), but they are useful for analyzing student motivation and doing something about it. They are meant to give us options and paths forward, not excuses and closed minds.
- The beliefs are not powerful when students intellectually assent to them; they are powerful when students operate from them. The goal of the beliefs-informed teacher is to help students move the beliefs from the head to the heart. Avoid assuming the belief is there just because a student intellectually assents to it.
- The beliefs are not just for students — they are for us to. They call us to higher ground.
I hope this helps. If you're interested in digging deeper into the beliefs, consider registering for the Course. Proceeds make it possible for me to do what I do here on this blog.