The Many Faces of Motivation

motivation-keep-goingWhat is motivation?  Is it a student that runs off the bus to get home, jumps onto the computer, and completes lessons on Think Through Math?  Is it a student on the bus coming to school, signing on and completing a pathway?  Is it a class that uses FaceTime to communicate how close they are on completing the class goal to encourage other students to complete a lesson and contribute points? Or is it a student that asks a multitude of questions on her guided learning because she doesn’t want to get any questions wrong?  Motivation can appear in many different ways, from many different students.

My first group reached their goal last week.  As Max C was leaving school, he told me, “Mr. G, we are going to get the goal tonight.”  I knew they were 5% away and I cautioned Max that if it didn’t happen tonight, that would be okay.  Max’s response, “Its Luis’ birthday.  We are going to do it for him.” [Luis has currently completed 340 lessons and heavily contributed to the class goal] Needless to say, I monitored the student’s progress on my tablet all night.  As they approached 100%, I knew the night was passing by quickly and they might not reach the goal.  Then, just around 9:45 pm, they accomplished their goal of 100%.  I was so happy for them.  The next day, many students got off the bus and were all smiles.  They ran up to me and asked if I had seen” it”; “it” being the class reaching its Classroom Goal.  I high-fived many students and congratulated them.  As I was walking in with Victor, he told me how many of the students were using FaceTime to communicate and encourage each other to complete lessons and earn points.  Victor, himself, had completed 9 lessons over the previous 2 days to help the class reach its goal.  It is an amazing feeling when students are all motivated to accomplish the same goal and worked together to complete it.

Another student was so excited to start Think Through Math at home, her mom relayed to me how she would run home off the bus, bypass the T.V. and head straight for the computer.  After this happened a few times, Talia’s mom began to wonder why all the time spent on the computer.  And, since most kids use the computer for social media, Talia’s mom began to wonder if the new found interest in using the computer was for social purposes.  After an hour of being home, Talia’s mom wandered in to see Talia working on Think Through Math.  Mom was relieved to see Talia working on math; not gossiping or playing around on the computer.  Talia’s mom told her to give the computer a break and read something!  Although reading was important, Talia’s mom quickly found out how much Think Through Math meant to Talia.  Talia and her mom argued over how to best spend “at home” time.  Eventually, Talia’s mom won the battle and got her to turn off the computer.  However, Talia won the war.  This cycle of running home and going on the computer happened day after day until Talia was in the “Top Five” for her class.  Mom was so excited to see her daughter excited about math.  Talia was motivated for success on Think Through Math and her actions impressed her mom.

Motivating students has become more challenging with so many other interests pulling our student’s attention.  Think Through Math has found the balance in providing high-interest activities while educating students on common-core aligned, grade-level appropriate lessons.  My students have demonstrated their motivation to be great through a variety of ways, and I have Think Through Math to thank!

THINK Nation Blogger – Joseph Goodwin, Fernwood Avenue Middle School, New Jersey