How to Motivate Reluctant Students

Webinar with Robyn Jackson - Reflection by Rebecca Carlisle

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Reflection On The Webinar Experience!~

I have had the privilege of attending a professional development by Dr. Jackson before and I liked listening to this webinar from her on specifically motivating students. Many of the things she talks about I already do but it is always beneficial to be reminded and to have this to re-focus with new tools as I prepare for the upcoming school year. She went over a list of the differences between 20th century and 21st century learning and it really changed my mindset. Dr. Robyn Jackson talked about motivating students by helping them develop their 3 main "currencies", which she says are knowledge/study skills, social skills, and networking skills (support systems). She says that "motivation is an investment decision on the part of the students in the way they leverage those three currencies". As educators, we have to determine what investments we want students to make by leveraging what we see as valuable about a task or assignment and aligning that with what students see as valuable by being specific and helping them see the pay off (21st century learning is working "smarter not harder") and give them measurable and realistic goals; remove classroom barriers to help students make those investments by giving them a sense of autonomy through choices on what assignments to complete and/or how to spend their time in a structured environment and help them all feel a sense of belonging in your classroom; address the barriers students bring in the classroom by helping them get rid of their fear of failure and instead helping them embrace failure as a tool in helping them be successful, giving them clear purpose to how what we're doing is relevant to their lives, gaining their trust by helping them revise their internal narrative so they re-define what it means to be successful not as the one who got the task completed the quickest, but the one who gave all they had to it; ask students to invest the right way by not embarrassing them but talking to them about where you want them to improve privately, specifically, and briefly, and stay positive; and shape the path of investing the right way by making it easy for students to continue to invest giving them specific and progressive goals,teach them how to do what you're asking them to do (study skills, note taking skills, etc.), implement habits, routines, and rituals as a class, and acknowledge incremental growth.

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Top Take-Aways!~

1) Teach kids how to fail forward! I really like this concept of helping kids not be afraid of failure, but rather, teach them how to learn from mistakes to they have a better opportunity at success and developing the best product. Dr. Jackson stated that she would incorporate structured opportunities to fail but having students submit non-examples to a question and building off of that to come to the actual example/answer originally sought after. For example, not asking a question and when students give the wrong answer say "nope, next?" but accept their "non-example" and use that to get to the right answer with the class.

2) After laying a lot of the ground work to help the students invest themselves, one of the final steps Dr. Jackson talks about is talking to and helping the students invest in the right way. Part of what she was saying here, that hit home with me, is that she was saying that when we are talking to the kids privately about what area we want to see more motivation or investment in, we are specific, direct, and brief about it. She says we shouldn't be talking so much trying to convince them but, rather, say it straight then stop talking to allow the student time to process what you've just asked them and then see how they respond. This was important for me to hear because I do tend to talk too much and try to convince them to come to my side and I can loose them quickly that way.

3) The third major take-away for me was what Dr. Jackson said at the end about how educators often state that students are "just lazy". But, Dr. Jackson says, "I've never met a lazy student...they invest their energy where they see the pay off or the value". That's why it is important that we show them the benefits of investing in the day-to-day at school and in your class in a way that is relevant to them, where they can see the pay-off and value.

Additional Resources!~

1) The video below is from Dr. Robyn Jackson on Technology in schools and is relevant to this class and what we have been discussing this semester. She talks about how it's not the technology being used in the classroom that is the answer, but showing kids how to leverage technology the best way to lead to that success in and out of the classroom. She's basically saying that it's important to teach digital citizenship.

2) The next resource below is the link to Dr. Robyn Jackson's book on motivating reluctant learners. It essentially goes into more depth on the subject that this webinar was based from.

3) The last resource below is a "Motivation Checklist" that was developed by Dr. Jackson and colleagues at her company, MindstepsInc. It is very helpful to recognize and appropriately address the various motivation issues in a classroom. And what teacher doesn't like a good checklist?! :)

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