Notes from ASCD Pre-conference Session: Motivation and School Change


New Orleans is a quiet city, if taken in at the right moments. We woke early today to get out before the city woke up and began its consistent cycle of reveling. A run through the streets of the quarter, over cobblestones and remnants of the previous night, set the tone for our day.
We were scheduled to attend a pre-conference workshop given by Margery Ginsberg from the University of Washington-Seattle. When we sat down a few weeks back to select this one, Dan, Kathy and I saw it as an opportunity to learns some strategies for moving the district forward. What we have been learning over the course of the last few weeks via feedback from meetings and conversations with the faculty is that they need to buy in to what is going on; they need to feel part of the change that is occurring.
Ginsberg’s workshop, titled, Motivation and School Change, came for us at a crucial time. Tremendous change is afoot in our buildings with construction and the impact it has on curriculum. We need to be able to provide framework for our staff to feel validated and know that they are essential to improving how we educate our students. What we learned today gave us a few great strategies and a key to developing the framework for building trust, establishing a common language for our buildings (so they can begin to see themselves as learning communities), and giving teachers voice.
Some of the things we discussed regarding motivation:
• Motivation based on improving test scores is a short term gain (Sinek would say that you are motivating based on a “what”: an outcome rather than an idea)
• Intrinsic motivation should be to love learning (this is a “why”) An effect of this type of motivation might be improved test scores.
• Motivation focused on classroom learning—also focused on those who do that.
Lesson Study:
• Finding teachers willing to make their own teaching public.
• Talking in explicit terms about instructional practice
• “Catch them in the act of being competent.”
• Video is huge.
• Asking teachers to share lessons and/or teaching practices.
• What does learning look like when all of our curriculum has relevance to student’s lives.
• How do you combat entitlement among staff—those that feel they are entitled to their position and there is no need to move forward.
What are some moments where you felt like you were: Creative, Capable, and Joyful?
• Birth of Parker and realization that I am now capable of doing this, being a parent.
What do people, especially teachers need in order to feel motivated?
• Positive Feedback- Give teachers feedback that is substantive and positive while still providing food for thought. Nothing punitive here.
• Successful Outcomes- teachers, anyone for that matter, needs to know that what they are a part of is destined for success.
• Validation- how do you provide them with the tools and support they need to feel like what they are doing is the right thing?
Strategies used during the workshop:
• Human Highlighters: people designated as speakers in a large group. Use them for giving voice and summarizing what they group might be feeling. Select several
• Carousel: each group works on a question, writes the answers down on their paper then passes the paper to another group. On the one you receive, they are to underline the things that they agree with, plus add to the list with their new ideas.
• Wows and Wonders- when giving feedback to teachers, use a system of Wows to describe positive contributions and attributes of the lesson and teacher. When attempting to give some constructive feedback, phrase it in the form of a “I wonder if..” or a “how could you…”
o “I wonder if you had the chance to think about…”
o “I wonder what would have happened if you did this…”
Central Characteristics of Schools that change well:
• Shared Language of instruction and change.
• Adult Collaboration
o Make time for it
o Expect it and encourage it.
• Creative Data
• System-wide Advocacy
o All shareholders feel like they can voice their concerns and be heard equally
o Students, parents, teachers, administrators
• “signature” or “identity
o Figure out the “why” before you figure out the how.
o Who are we?
4 Norms for Groups to build trust
• Honor the absence of others
o No talking behind each other’s backs.
• State challenges in problem-solving terms. Speak as if things can be solved.
o Maintain a problem solving disposition
• No blame, because it is too easy.
• Respectful listening, which can be defined by the group.
• Teach each other in the moment.

“New Orleans at Disneyland” from matthewsage’s photostream


3 thoughts on “Notes from ASCD Pre-conference Session: Motivation and School Change

  1. Dennis,

    I am in a session until 2:30, then again at 3:15. What’s your schedule?

    I saw your idea for next year and I think it’s right on the money.

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