(#132) Relevance, Relationships, and Rainbows

As a teacher I can excite, energize, and educate.
But can anyone really motivate another person?

I have been preparing for a webinar I will be facilitating for Innovative Educators (January 29, 2013) on the topic of student motivation.  Even though I have been teaching for more than 30 years, this remains a challenging topic.  As a teacher I can excite, energize, and educate. But can anyone really motivate another person?

I have NEVER felt comfortable when someone has called me a “motivational speaker.” I feel that on a good day I am a momentary motivator.  My hope is to be able to inspire people with a word, a phrase, a song, a video, or actions that will touch their hearts and motivate them to go forward in their lives.

Photo by Steve Piscitelli

But if the listeners do not internalize my extrinsic exhortations I’m not sure how much “motivating” I have done.

Daniel Pink (see TED video below) tells us when people desire to do things because those things matter to them, that is a sign that they have become intrinsically motivated.  Something external may have caused the initial movement but in order to maintain that trajectory, the person has to take ownership and believe he or she can make a difference in whatever is at hand.

Pink asserts that people are most motivated when they have autonomy (control over what they are doing), mastery (the desire to get better at what matters to them), and purpose (the recognition that what we do matters on a larger scale).

Video recommendation for the week:

My friend and colleague Professor Emeritus Joe Cuseo has written that students have a better chance of success when they have (among other traits) a sense of purpose, self-efficacy, and active involvement in what is at hand in their education.  Effective teachers (in the classroom, in the workplace, and at home) provide engaging opportunities for students to discover that their studies have purpose and that their individual efforts affect their success.  Do you see the connection to Pink’s thesis?

For me, I like to distill it to 3Rs: Relevance, Relationships, and Rainbows.

  • Relevance.  Demonstrate for students that what they are learning in the classroom has relevance to their lives—personal and future careers. If there is no relevance, then why are we wasting a portion of their lives dumping the data in their heads? That is not education—and it definitely is not motivational.
  • Relationships. Our culture has become obsessed with instantaneous communication.  Smart phones, tablets, laptops, and mp3 players keep us technologically tethered.  We have “friends” we have never met—and probably never will or care to.  What is missing in all of this? Good ol’ fashioned “connections”—real relationships. Please do not misread this as a Luddite’s slam on social media. I am as technological tethered as many. But our success—and that of our students, colleagues, and family members—will not be measured by the size of our “friend” list. Rather, we need true connections—meaningful connections to other people and to a greater purpose.

James Barker/

  • Rainbows. Each semester my goal is to help my students articulate their dreams and the specific steps they need to take to move toward those dreams.  When they can see their own brightly colored rainbow, then their own purpose comes into clearer focus.  Now that is motivation!

As you look toward the New Year, may your rainbows be bright, meaningful, and fulfilling.  Make 2013 your  year of the rainbow. Make it the  year your dreams come true!

Enjoy your week—and H.T.R.B.as needed!

My 2013 webinar series will be announced in the very near future.  The theme for the coming year is THE YEAR OF THE DREAM! Check my website for the most up-to-date information.  Thank you for your support.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please pass it (and any of the archived posts on this site) along to friends and colleagues. You can also follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli). Also, if you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment. Have a wonderful week!

©2012. Steve Piscitelli.

About stevepiscitelli

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6 Responses to (#132) Relevance, Relationships, and Rainbows

  1. Pingback: (#136) A Blogger’s Retrospective: 2012 in Review « Steve Piscitelli's Blog

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