What Motivates You?


At the beginning of this school year, I submitted an “application” of sorts to be considered for a new team at our school. A “Digital Learning Team” was being formed, with only 6 faculty members that would participate in the Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) program. We attended a kickoff in Dallas in September, attended several Elluminate sessions, and are wrapping up the year by creating an action research project for our faculty. We’ll celebrate the year and share what we’ve learned back in Dallas next month. I was honored to have been chosen for this team, and have put many hours into learning and growing this year to improve my teaching and to help lead others.

As a “student” I’ve stepped into some very new territory and learned to use a plethora of new tools! I also began writing this blog, created a Google Reader, and became active on Twitter. Collaboration and sharing are two of the most important concepts I have embraced this year. I have also begun to value creativity and innovation more than ever before. These concepts define 21st Century Learning for me: COLLABORATION, SHARING, CREATIVITY, and INNOVATION.

What best motivates me to work these crazy hours, learn new programs and create accounts for each student, write a regular blog, keep up with an RSS reader, Twitter, and two Nings? I can answer that question in two words: POSITIVE FEEDBACK. It’s embarrassing, but I’m a glutton for it. Here are just a few examples…

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, co-founder of the PLP program, cross-posted one of my blogs on the PLP blog. She tweeted a link to another one of my blogs with the hashtag of the NAIS conference she was attending. She has a HUGE following, and was recommending that people read MY blog!! I was beside myself for days…

• I attended a social event at my school last weekend, and the Associate Head of our school told me how impressed she was with what I had learned this year. I went back to my table and beamed…

• I created an Xtranormal movie to be used as part of the introduction to our action research project, and tweeted a link to Susan Carter Morgan for feedback. Within ten minutes she tweeted back with an enthusiastic positive response, AND put a link to the movie on her Scoop.it! on Educational Professional Development. Suddenly the three hours I spent creating the movie were all worth it…

Ok, this sounds like it belongs in Will Richardson’s “Shameless Self-Promotion Department” now, but that’s not the point… The point is that positive feedback is incredibly motivational. I knew this… but suddenly when it was me, I got it.

I’ve worked with my 3rd graders this year to help them see the benefits of collaboration, sharing, creativity, and innovation. One thing we have done is to learn how to use Storybird and Glogster to produce creative stories and posters, and most importantly, share them with others. My students love these sites, and frequently use their free time at home to create new stories and posters. This is one BIG selling point for Web 2.0 – I’ve never had students working voluntarily at home on the weekends!! I take care to leave a positive comment on anything new they’ve created so they know I’ve seen it, and am proud of them! They love getting feedback from each other as well. It motivates them to keep trying and pushes them to produce higher quality results, hoping for more positive comments. What more could I ask for??

On the wall behind my desk is a piece of art that says simply, “Inspire”. When I am in the front of the room teaching, I can see it behind my students – It reminds me what I am there to do. To inspire – to motivate – to encourage. Positive feedback may be the most important tool I use.

5 thoughts on “What Motivates You?

  1. Positive feedback is the cheapest motivational tool. It is odd, then, that it is so seldom used with adults. We know we need to give it to our students, but rarely give it to one another.

    I want you to know, you are my source of positive feedback and inspiration. Adults can give positive professional feedback. Way to go! You have accomplished much learning and much production on many levels and you DO make a difference!

  2. I agree with Ms. Deeley above…positive feedback is a vital, yet often under-utilized tool in the professional (and sadly educational) world.

    I can totally relate to your feelings on positive feedback. The first time I had an original idea retweeted by people I did not ever know was such a rush that it inspired me to continue tweeting ideas.(though I must admit, I’ve been slacking lately)

    Have you tried sending some of your students’ work out to your PLN for more feedback. I have been commenting on student reading blogs from all over the world. The teachers report that the students are doing more because they feel like they can’t let their audience down.

    PS I love that you have “Inspire” hanging in your room. You are an inspiration to me and to others!

  3. All of your hard work paid off. Great presentation at the faculty meeting yesterday. Thanks for all of your help!

  4. I knew when you were assigned to the DLT, it was a good fit. You have always had a nack for computer based things and are always willing to help. Thank you! Your directions on Diigo were easy to follow.

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