A Slow Leak or a Blow Out? Both Leave You Stranded

Motivation. What motivates you? What motivates your students? What motivates teachers to use new tech? These are questions we hear do often. These are questions where if we knew the answer our jobs all of a sudden become a whole lot easier. If humans weren’t so darn complicated we would know the answer.


More I read about motivation I read that money & rewards are not good motivators. It’s hard for me to believe these things are not important (hold on I’m going to be coming back to this) but Pink’s Drive pretty much drilled this into my head. He teaches that self-determination is key. Maslow found that growth needs are based on curiosity and exploration and at the highest level focus on need for self-fulfillment and reaching potential. This goes for all ages. If you study Knowles’ ideas within andragogy, adults are motivated when learning is problem centered with more internal motivators. My dear brilliant friend Angela Maiers (who I may say has better shoe collection than I do) will tell you our passions drive us.

So we have all these factors that can come into play when looking at motivators. I see all of these in my everyday life. To me the internal is huge. Passion, problem solving, & drive to learn is big. The external is not as big for me. I think it can be for some, you see people who count followers or RTs or popularity. I’m kind of along lines of Michelle Baldwin’s post about not liking the whole ‘rock star’ deal. It is not comfortable to me. Unfortunately the lack of external drive can be a negative because I sit back often and watch others take credit for my work or allows others to ‘use’ my knowledge and skills for their gain and usually I’m ok with it. Dumb, I know. It’s just part of who I am. We are all different. We all are motivated so differently and mine are these quiet internal things. (Except laughs. If I can get a laugh I’m pretty satisfied.)

Our students are same way. They are all motivated by something different. Yet there is something that triggers motivation in them. It’s our job to find it and nurture it. Might not be as easy as it sounds but we know that the internal can fuel for longer than the external. We have to dig for it. Some times we just need to ask or observe. But it can happen.

So with all of this said here is my point and my question – what demotivates people? I’m sure bums are not people who have never had a passion or never had dreams of future success. I’m sure that kid that comes to school everyday and his only activity is to put head on desk & cover it with a hoodie was at one time motivated by something, right? So what has taken away their motivation to succeed? To be part of something?

I don’t know answer. I don’t know why I’m still motivated to do what I do. Y’all know educational technology & professional development/working with teachers are my passions. I’m not sure what motivates me, it’s not money or rewards. I probably work harder or just as hard as those who have full time teach coaching positions yet I never get a dime. Blogging & social media has opened up this whole can of worms people helping others & its our source of PD for free. We work extra hard because we do our everyday jobs then add this too it. Then pay our own way to conferences, we must be insane, or something is driving this. This one has been hard for me because my children question me about this. This may be what breaks me.

This summer has been a huge lesson in failure and being turned down but here I am, still reading blogs for research and learning and still writing. I’m kind of asking because deep down I want to not be so driven. It would make failure easier to bare. May make it easier to just quit. We hear from gaming fans that failure doesn’t stop motivation. So what the heck is it? Something has caused these students to stop wanting to learn. Unfortunately I’m afraid I’m starting down that path personally and it’s a scary feeling. Do students feel it coming on, like a nail in your tire, or is it sudden, like getting a blow out while going 70 mph?

I’m starting to become terrified. I see myself losing motivation in my future. I know I’m not as motivated to go back to school as I was last year, because I again won’t be spending the day diving into my passion. I don’t want to become that kid with my head down all day. Even more terrifying is that the hoodie kid will come out of my classroom. That I’m going to screw something up and be the cause to take away motivation. Why isn’t there more research on this? I’m a big believer in learning from failure but at what point does that failure finally break that person? Love that schools give kids chances to have do-overs but at what point does that frustrate the child to no return. We have to find that motivation and we have to nurture it. Holy crap I don’t want a kid to ever leave my classroom feeling as broken as I have this summer. It’s beyond terrifying. We have to make this a goal next year, find what drives and motivate. If we don’t look for that motivation are we doing the opposite & is that causing permanent damage?

One Comment Add yours

  1. Rodney says:

    Thank you for writing about failure. I’m so sorry that this summer has been so frustrating and a source of failure for you. Thinking about children and how much failure will break them, I’m sure that every child is different, based on their background. I do my best to make sure there is something that every person I work with can find some type of success.
    I sincerely believe there is something better than you know coming along.
    Best wishes and if there is anything we can do to help motivate you, let us know.

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