...[W]e believe that this tripod - content knowledge, skill, and will - is the foundation of all learning in the twenty-first century. Of the three, we believe that will, or motivation, is the most important, and the one damaged most by our schools today. If students are intrinsically motivated, they will continue to acquire new skills and content knowledge throughout their lives, enabling them to thrive in the innovation era...And, to be clear, we're not just talking about the thrill factor of learning. We are talking about the motivations that include grit, perseverance, and self-discipline.
I remember someone telling me that no one can motivate another person. I don't know they said it or why they believed it, but that's what they said. I think the point was that no one can motivate another person, but that one can only awaken the motivation in the other person.
What's the difference? I don't really know.
And it's my job to change their attitudes.
Maybe it's a matter of showing them they are not worthless. Maybe it means I have to demonstrate compassion and patience for them while they bring emotional baggage across our threshold. Maybe they are not interested. The first order of business is to sweep the hair out of their faces, get them to hold their chins up, and teach them to maintain eye contact at all times. It's not something I can state on the first day and expect from my students; it must be done with explicit instruction and fidelity.
There is some truth in the idea that students come to the fourth grade with nine years of habits, and the teacher has nine months to undo those habits. That's a hyperbolic observation, but there is truth in there.
There is a change that comes upon my students in the first quarter of the year. I strive to maintain that positive change throughout the remaining three-quarters of the year. I work hard to motivate my students intrinsically, with little extrinsic rewards added where needed or required by the schoolwide behavior system. Many students begin to realize that they don't behave, improve, and learn in order to get trophies, cookies, or stickers. They don't do it to participate in a monthly celebration. They do them because they are the right things to do, and because they feel better about themselves.