Motivation - Mrs. Amanda Coonradt

EDU 600
Mrs. Amanda D. Coonradt
Teachers have the capacity and flexibility to really impact their students’ capabilities. One of the
most important factors related to their student success is motivation. Student motivation is tricky
because it is so diverse and there are such a variety of motivational strategies that teachers can utilize.
The emphasis is not merely on offering students incentives for good performance later but on
stimulating them to use thoughtful learning. Thus, strategies for stimulating motivation to learn
differ from strategies for supplying extrinsic motivation for performance (Brophy, 1987, p. 41).
I have seen and implemented two of Brophy’s motivational principles the most. First is to provide
opportunities to interact with peers. Second is to minimize students’ performance anxiety during
learning activities.
My class gives many opportunities for students to engage with one another. For example, we
recently conducted student interviews. Students chose a famous person they would like to know more
about. They researched the education, family life, career, and reason that they were a famous person.
They then ‘became’ the famous person, dressing like them, memorizing the facts they have learned, and
then were interviewed by another classmate. Names were drawn at random and each student was an
interviewer and an interviewee. This gave students the opportunity to incorporate history, speaking,
reading, and writing all in one activity. It also was a great way for students to create intrinsic
motivation. Another form of group and peer interaction is our science/chemistry groups. Our students
are currently experimenting with white powered chemicals and working together to identify the
different properties that they have. All students really enjoy using creative words to describe the
chemicals they are identifying. A third example is our English Language Arts (ELA) practice exercises.
We are studying for our third grade state exams and one of the current practices is listening, taking
notes, and re-telling the story. Students incorporate this peer interaction when they use their notes to
share their own re-telling of the story with their neighbor. Students discuss differences in what they
heard and can recall from one another. I really see students’ eyes light up when they tell their story and
listen to what their neighbors have to say. All of these examples motivate by capitalizing on students’
intrinsic motivation (Brophy, 1987, p. 45).
Anxiety when taking tests or during learning activities can sometimes hamper student
achievement. I know as an adult, I too can get very anxious and psyche myself out. Well, we as
educators can combat this affect on our students by minimizing the anxiety that we put on them. My
class does this in a range of ways. We provide pretest-spelling tests on Thursday afternoons, the day
prior to their final spelling test. If students get a 100% on their practice/pretest, they do not have to
take it the following day. This gives students the ability to have two chances at the test, and takes the
pressure of ‘one time only’ off. If students do have a mistake on the practice test, they can go home
that night and study their minor mistakes and conquer the test the next morning. Another example of
relief of anxiety is our review of subject material prior to taking a test. I ask if there are any last minute
questions, and make sure no student feels that they are unprepared for what they are about to be
tested on. We also go over every direction thoroughly and clearly, underlining important words or
numbers that we need to include in our answer. This takes stress off of the student regarding what to
do. Lastly, since my class is an included class, I do have the ability to separate students that need more
of a one-on-one test proctor situation. I believe all of these actions do help take away stress on my
Brophy (1987), as cited in Hill and Wigfield (1984), found that combat test anxiety by minimizing
time pressures, by portraying tests as opportunities to assess progress rather than as measures
of ability, by giving pretests to accustom students to “failure” and provide a basis for marking
progress, and by teaching stress management and test-taking skills.
As a teacher leader, besides the challenging task of motivating our students, we sometimes have
to motivate our peers. If I notice a teacher acting down, or feeling stuck with a student or lesson, I will
pull them aside and talk to them. Communicating concerns or issues one is having in the classroom is
vital to progress. Peer to peer interaction with teachers is just as necessary as it is with students. As for
minimizing performance anxiety in teachers, we can work together by teaching each other techniques
on stress management and test-taking skills. These are unique to each person, and working together
with other teachers, asking their opinions, will give me more options on combating stress when it affects
Motivation can come in many forms and be applied to not just students, but to us educators as
Brophy, J. (1987, October). Synthesis of Research on Strategies for Motivating Students to Learn.
Educational Leadership, pp.40-48.