Daniel H. Pink, best selling author of “A Whole New Mind” and “Drive” suggests THREE ways to increase motivation in schools. Pink advocates autonomy, mastery and purpose as key drivers instead of the tired, traditional carrot-and-stick methods.
Speaking at the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Conference in the U.S., Pink argues that today’s management approaches in schools tend to be designed around compliance.
Based on his background in behavioural science, Pink advocates that schools and teachers should be more focused on engagement through self-direction. For both students and teachers, Pink advocates autonomy, mastery and purpose as key drivers.
Whilst no one likes to be micro-managed or dictated to, there is a fine line in providing complete autonomy to teachers. One of the key roles of the leadership team is to ensure consistency of agreed good practice across the school. I’d argue that all students in a school deserve a good deal, no matter which class they are in or which teacher they have. That consistency is best achieved through agreeing what good practice looks like and then implementing those approaches through high functioning teams. There are therefore limits on ‘autonomy’. It can’t be ‘do whatever you want to do in your classroom’.
Pink’s second driver, mastery, certainly resonates with educators. The vast majority of teachers want to be the best teacher they can be. Most teachers are committed to continuous improvement and are constantly looking to refine their practice. The importance of feedback to mastery is highlighted by Pink. Teachers and students generally have the desire to do better but either receive no feedback or feedback that is too late in the process to be beneficial.
Teacher effectiveness and opportunities for refining practice are evident in the triangulation of three factors – student achievement, feedback from observing practice and feedback from students about what is helping and what is hindering their learning.
The third of Daniel Pink’s drivers is Purpose. This driver clearly resonates with most educators. We know that the work that we do is important. We have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis. However, at times our work can be frustrating. It can feel like we are beating our head against a wall.
Whilst communicating the relevance of some class work to disengaged students can be challenging, the significance of the work that teachers do should also be highlighted. Further motivation for teachers should come through emphasising the purpose and significance of the important work we do in schools. Teachers have a ‘why’ (or purpose) bigger and more important than anyone in the country.
For almost all members of society, their children are the most important things in the world. More important to them than their car or their house.
However, this presents a double-edged sword. Whilst it is a tremendous responsibility it is also a significant investment of trust. Parents not only entrust the welfare of their most prized possession to teachers, they also entrust us with preparing their children for the future.
It is essential that educational leaders continue to emphasise the BIG picture for all staff working in schools.
Through researching Happy School articles the following key drivers are important to happiness.
We need to feel…
- our work is important,
- we make a difference,
- we are good at what we do,
- that our work is appreciated and
- have a sense of belonging and are part of a team
A void in any of these areas will lead to us feeling insecure and unsatisfied.