8 approaches for inspiring internal motivation in the classroom

Look up!

Using the Great Teaching Toolkit, courtesy of Rob Coe et al. (2020) as a training tool, I am set to deliver just one session for my colleagues this coming week, and it struck me that this could be basis for this blog. Teaching and coaching tools for motivation. Do I have the most motivated students all the time? No. I am however happy to share that I have many successful students, who have found their inner motivation, and some of that might be down to my approach to building relationships with them as individuals.

The research within the Great Teaching Toolkit provides an evidence based approach to all sections of the teaching process. From content knowledge and expertise, to creating the right environment, to managing the environment, finally challenging learners to ‘think hard’. There is part of me that wonders whether the ‘Dimensions’ and ‘Elements’ described might not work equally as well in a leadership and management scenario, but that is for another researcher to discuss.

I have simply reviewed Element 2.3 and created a 20 minute presentation to open discussion about how I consider using this, and ideas that others might like. 2.3 is all about motivation to support not only learning but also wellbeing and personal development. The signposts Prof. Coe and his team provide lead us to looking into Self Determination Theory and specifically research by Deci and Ryan (2008). They break the process of motivation into Controlled and Autonomous. Controlled uses the kind of reward and punish, approval and non-approval we see from traditional teaching, parenting, management styles. Focus then moves towards the Autonomous motivation, which is further broken down into Autonomy, Competence and Relatedness.

Take time to see the colours

To enable me to really consider how this works in practice, I researched into some of the more practical writing that describes how we might create this autonomous motivation for our learners (and our selves alike). Reeve (2016) provides a chapter in Building Autonomous Learners, titled Autonomously Supportive Teaching: What is it, How to do it. The work offers me the language of Autonomy Supportiveness, particularly the range of comments used in lesson observations, which really highlighted the difference between to two worlds, controlling teacher, supportive teacher. A number of thoughts struck me as I created the training session:

  • There is no set time frame when a teacher might fall into the pattern of creating a controlling classroom. New teachers who might feel more secure in their delivery with the classroom under ‘control’, experienced teachers who have delivered their curriculum for a number of years, may forget the individuals in the room.
  • I had read about ‘Choice Theory’ (Glasser, 1999) in connection to forest school recently, and it resonated with the SDT stance. Considering Glasser’s ‘Quality School’ approach using Choice Theory in the classroom, consisted of meeting the following learner needs; to belong, for freedom, for power and for fun. How do we become part of a young person’s ‘ quality world’?
  • Some people would argue that’s not important in education, to promote internal motivation tool and young people should learn to conform – but perhaps those people are reading the wrong blog.

Here are my suggestions for creating internal motivation for learners taken from the training session.

In the classroom generally…..

Online teaching specifically ….

My own practice …..

Let me know what you think about this post and how you create internal motivation with your young people.

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Jane Owen

Coach, Educator and Researcher. Specialising in eco-coaching and young people.

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