Shifting the Culture: Instrinsic Drive


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Webinar presentation for Education Week as part of their series "The Driven Classroom". Focusing on creating the conditions for student motivation at a school level. Key aspects of presentation are growth mindset, assessment for learning, moving away from rewards and awards.

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  • Rural K-6 Elementary School in Southern BC – lower SES (50% at or below poverty level), high First Nation population, and a strong community. These slides will not be a list of things you can do but more of ideas around a mindset shift that works for our school.I used to be a teacher that used prizes, points, time as rewards and punishment both as a high school and intermediate teacher. What I found was that these worked for the kids that didn’t need them.
  • This is the statement that drives the majority of the decisions at our school. Leadership, reading, learning… how do we create the conditions for kids to want to learn and grow?A buddy of mine from Alberta -Joe Bower adapted a MLK quote when he told me that we often get caught up in a short term culture of efficiency rather than a long term culture of education. We want things we can use and do to students to motivate them - when it is really more about creating the conditions for students to motivate themselves.Motivation is a continuum, not an either or with intrinsic/extrinsic. – feedback is something that falls in the middle and can be very powerful.I think we need to rethink how we create the conditions for students to motivate themselves? Are current ideas, like student of the month, focus on grades, honour rolls, award, prizes for behaviour, working well enough?
  • All about student ENGAGEMENT, CONFIDENCE, and resulting PRIDE– next year we will be adding Inquiry to further help us with this.Having taught for years in a high school, I recognize the large shift we have made is easier at elem level. This does not mean that we don’t start the conversation in high school.Today we will focus on how we honour our students’ strengths and interests, provide ongoing feedback (aligns well with the coaching philosophies of AFL and formative assessment), and work to develop the growth mindset (from the work of Carol Dweck – fixed vs growth – everything is a skill.). We will also talk about some things we have moved away from at our school – We don't use any school wide reward or award system - no student of the month, no end of the year awards, no honour roll, no prizes for behaviour... AND we honour each child - not with an award for every child but with feedback that helps them understand their strengths as well as areas of needed growth 
  • Kids do well if they can – if they could do well, they would do well (Dr. Ross Greene). It is up to us to teach the skills… and everything is a skill – reading, math, behaviour.We believe - Focus on strengths, support the challenges. Make learning relevant by bringing strengths interests into student learning.Developing CONFIDENT LEARNERS – when students are confident they move out of their comfort zones and take more risks… and they know what to do when they don’t know what to do. How do we do this?Focus on strengths and interests… back up to where they are. Build confidence.Coaching, ongoing feedback, criteria – fundamentals of Assessment For Learning (formative assessment) – we need to ask do our actions as teachers build or tear down confidence? Do we embrace the strengths of our students or focus more on the deficits?
  • 5 minsOne example of something we do: CHOICES – giving kids more autonomy to chooseStrengths and interests. Goals: Explore, Tinker,Build A time for teachers to teach in an area of their passion, time for students to explore an area of interest. STUDENTS have a say.No formal/summative assessments, tons of engagement, tons of learning (45 mins/week)Bird Watching, geology, technology (video production, coding), comic book writing, cooking, theatre, athletics, music, dance…Quote from a parent – I never have to ask my son about school when it is choices.Many students state this is their favourite part of school.Looking to expand this to genius hour and more inquiry based learning. On the topic of choice - also important to provide some regular opportunities for choice in learning activities and assessment – this helps with engagement and ownership of learning.
  • 7 minsAnother area to help students explore their strengths, interests and who they are.One of the most powerful days as an educator. Students present to each other about who they are – strengths, identity, interests.Autonomy to choose – simple criteria with plenty of room for creativity, no grades but plenty of dialogue.Recent comment from a parent. She said her daughter felt intimidated by the girls in her class and was getting picked on. Because of CHOICES and Identity Day, her daughter has been able to explore and share a love of hers: art. Since ID Day, students have been asking them to help them with art as well as putting in requests for her to draw pictures of their pets. She said she has never been so excited about something… and this girl who hardly said a word recently sang in our musical too!We want our kids to be confident – they may struggle in certain areas but they have a strength and passion in other areas.
  • 9 mins Ended our awards ceremony in 2009. Achievement has gone up in past 2 years. Why did we get rid of awards? Alignment with school goalsWe asked: If each child has their own strengths and challenges, and we believe learning is a journey full of skills to be learned… how do awards fitFurther emphasized the hierarchy of skills, same students win and beat out others each yearSo many of our students come with advantages and disadvantages that are beyond our control.We need to be careful of confusing Winning and Learning – we are not opposed to competition but beating others should not be the main focus… especially when it usually pushes people who have a chance of winning.Are all relative: Carol Dweck"In the fixed mindset, to be successful, you must be better than others” It is like norm-referenced grading - Just about being better than others in the room.Is it mostly about being better than peers? What if the others are not so strong?When are awards ok? A class of 5? A class of 50? 200? (family awards)We often get the question: How are we preparing kids for the REAL world? First of all, our kids leave our school when they are 11... They have some years to go before the real world. We want school to be their real world: We want them to be able to collaborate & be driven to learn… not get an award for being better than someone else. Our students are far from coddled and we don’t just tell them how great they are. We continually work to challenge them to be better. They xperience failure on a regular basis as they are developing the confidence to take more risks, fall, and get back up (that is growth mindset). Having awards directly opposes so much that we stand for that it just would not make sense.
  • 11 minsWe are more concerned with how we honour kids throughout the year than one ceremony at the end of the year.Letme be clear: Not about award winners for all. Moving the focus from grades to process of learning –ongoing, no endpoint, no select “club”, why do we need to all arrive at the same time?What do we do now? COS Assemblies, Gr. 6 Celebration – 2-3 strengths and/or interests of each child – focus on effort feedback (growth mindset), video of positives at school.Acknowledge the efforts of our students every day. Bring their strengths into our school and make their learning relevent.We DO NOT want to take away from those who would have been award winners... We continue to challenge and honour them but we ALSO challenge and honour those with skills in different areas.Story of MyaNot perfect but definitely a step in the right direction.
  • 13 minsRewards are defined for this slide as prizes, tickets, points, stickers, etcMuch like punishments, rewards do not teach the needed skills – and everything is a skill.We want to teach responsibility and when we offer a prize for doing something, it becomes less about choosing the right thing to do and more about choosing what to do to get the prize.Instead of rewards, provide clear criteria and ongoing feedback.Sheila Stewart “true kindness is being kind when nobody is there to celebrate or giving you something for doing it”We hear “catch kids being good” and I think it is important to provide feedback on the positive efforts… but if we are just out to catch kids for being good, some become very skilled at getting caught.Rewards often make learning a game of points/ticket collections and fails to work for the kids who need it to work the most.
  • 15 mins - Try to move from compliance to responsibility. We expect students to do the right thing... Not for any reward but because it is the right thing… and do the right thing when nobody is there watching them. We need to ask: is it the right thing to do if we expect something given to us at the end?We don’t give prizes for reading, behaving, etc. We work to create the conditions for students to to be engaged in reading, leading, and learning..With AFL, moving away from a focus on grades to a focus on feedback and learning. Set the bar with modeling and leadership. Provide ongoing descriptive feedback. Provide opportunities for students to lead and be responsible. Soon, there is no hand out – there is no expectation for a prize for doing the right thing – in learning, in how we treat each other, in how we behave in social settings. THAT is intrinsic.Focusing on intrinsic drive is hard work… but so worth it in the long term.
  • 17 mins - What is it really about? Creating the conditions for students to be more engaged in their education BIG Picture conditionsHonour Strengths, interests  relevant learning, focus on what we can do and support the challengesWork on becoming confident learners  how we speak to kids and how we coach/assess kids on a daily basis can build or tear down confidence – get kids on a winning streak by backing up to where they are and then coaching them from thereOngoing feedback on skills – everything is a skill – behaviour, numeracy, literacy. Encourage a growth mindset – focus on effort and that every skill can be improved upon. Nothing is fixed.Assessment for Learning and Inquiry  bringing criteria, feedback, strengths, interests all together as a philosophy of teaching and learningProvide choice in student learning activities. We cannot choose the curriculum but we can provide options for learning activities.Leadership – give students the opportunity to lead and become responsible people. Avoid giving them prizes and points for doing the right thing – reflect on the deeper feelings involved in doing the right thingMove away from focus on rewards and awards to focusing on learning the needed skills. We really need to rethink how we honour kids if we only choose a select few and wait until June to do it. Honour and acknowledge each child more often.Kids do well if they can… it is our job to help them to do well by coaching the skills needed to be successful in education. By creating the conditions for student engagement, we have seen a mindset shift to a more intrinsic culture. Honouring students for who they are and teaching the skills needed to be successful long term is no easy task.. But in the end, it is so worth it. Leaders evolve and school culture shifts..  
  • Thanks you – to keep the conversation going, here are some ways to connect.
  • Shifting the Culture: Instrinsic Drive

    1. Shifting the Culture:Intrinsic Drive Chris Wejr @chriswejr
    2. “We cannot motivate others… we can only work to create the conditions for people to motivate themselves.” --Image:
    3. RelationshipsStrengths & Growth Mindset Interests Creating The Conditions Descriptive Leadership Feedback
    4. “We don’t know who we can be… until we know what we can do” -- Sir Ken Robinson -- Jenifer FoxCC Image:
    5. Exploring Interests Through CHOICES
    6. Showcasing the strengths of each student…
    7. CC Image: pennstatelive
    8. Moving From Honour Roll to Honour All
    9. cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by dolanh:
    10. Doing the right thing...just because it is the right thing to do.
    11. Student Motivation:What is it REALLY About?
    12. Connect With Me @chriswejr