A Career Research Project to Boost Intrinsic Motivation

Almost weekly, my teammates and I talk about our fifth graders and the lack of intrinsic motivation that some of them seem to have. My biggest concern has always been the potential that I can see in them, but that they don’t put out into their daily efforts in the classroom. And truly, I just don’t think they all know why that’s so important.

You see, I could say it to them all the time, just how much I believed in them, how I knew they could dig just a little deeper, take their assignments just a little more seriously. I could preach about how what they do now matters for their future. But that wasn’t making the difference that I so desperately wanted to see in some of them.

How serious was this problem? My best example is this, I give my students the opportunity to revise and resubmit their weekly reading assignments. If they don’t get the grade they want reported on their graded assignments, they can ask me to send it back to them to redo and resubmit. That’s an amazing opportunity, and about half of them (maybe even more) don’t take advantage of it. Unbelievable, right? I mean, they see their score immediately, may see that it’s a 50, and they move on to do something else. Why wouldn’t a student ask to retry that assignment to get a higher score? It puzzles and worries me, and to be honest, are we really doing our jobs if we aren’t building more intrinsic motivation in our students?

So when New Years rolled around, I came up with a plan. I knew that I wanted to work on goal-setting with my students, but I also knew that I needed to do so on a deeper level. You can read about the conferences that I had with my students for setting goals and reflecting on their performance in my previous post, Help Your Students Set Meaningful Goals Instead of the Same Old New Year’s Resolutions. You can also get a link to the forms I used during these conferences in that post.

That was part one. Part two of the plan was a research report. I had my students research the requirements of their future career goal. They researched the education, task, and skill requirements for that career, and then the reflected into heir current performance and made plans for the meeting their goal. It’s just the right combination! I called the report, “My Future’s So Bright”.

Since having these conferences and discussing their future career goals and plans for getting there, I’ve seen a significant change in some of my students. They had realizations that mattered to them and that they knew they could work on NOW. To be honest, since doing this, I’ve shared how impactful this plan was with pretty much anybody at school who will listen. It’s that good!

If this is a problem you’ve seen in your own classroom, with your own students, any time is a good time to address it. You can grab my conference forms and the career research report and bulletin board kit in my store, just go to the shop tab.

Remember Your Why

This little jar holds 36 pompoms. Thirty-six pompoms for 36 weeks of school. For us teachers, that means 36 weeks to create meaningful moments that matter. What do you want your moments to be full of? Now’s the time to remind yourself about why you do what you do. Why did you want to do this job when you first began? What is your why?

For myself and my students, I strive to create moments full of joy, love, and growth. I want my students to find joy in learning, joy in making connections with others, joy in the small moments that make up all of our days. I want my students to find a love of reading, a love of challenging themselves, and a sense of love for the world and people around them. I want my students to strive for their own growth and celebrate even their smallest moments of success. And for myself, I want all of the same.

As my administrators presented this little jar idea on our first day back together as a staff this year, they reminded us that not all of our moments will be huge. Some of our moments will be medium-sized, some smaller, and some may be so small that they may not even be noticed if you’re not looking for it with intent. That’s okay! This jar is filled with all sizes of pompoms, and I plan on finding gratitude for ALL of the moments of joy, love, and growth in my classroom this year.

And now, a call to action. If you’re reading this, I encourage you to stop and think. What is your why? What do you want your moments to be full of for yourself and your students this year? What matters most to you in your classroom? I’d love to know your answers! For me, writing them down made them more meaningful. If you’re willing to share, please add a comment to this post to share your why and the moments you’ll be celebrating this year. Or, go to this post on my Instagram account @teachingandlearningwithjg and leave a comment there.

Google Forms for Back to School Open House Night

If you’re like me, then Meet the Teacher Night (Open House, Back to School Night, Orientation, whatever you call it at your school) can be overwhelming and may never go exactly the way you planned it. Even with all of the best preparation, planning, and intentions, I always seem to end the night questioning myself, “How did I forget to have ____ write down their contact/dismissal transportation/fill in the blank?” Or, you just have some families who are in a hurry and don’t make it to each of the papers you are asking them to add their information on. I’m never really sure how it happens, but I always seem to have something go a little awry.

So this year … Google Forms for the time saver!

Heres what I’m doing. I’ve created a Google Form with all of my questions in one place. I’m sticking to the most necessary information – transportation, birthday, parent phone numbers and email, volunteer interest, etc. I’ll have computers set up at a station in the classroom with the Google Form loaded and ready to be filled out. All of that information will be automatically entered into a Google Spreadsheet, and voila, I have what I need.

I used my free Canva account to create the banner, which can be uploaded into the Google Form using the paint palette settings tool box. Or, just use one of the options Google already offers.

Then, just for cuteness, I edit the style of my spreadsheet to fit my style and classroom theme. (I want it to match when I print it for my teacher binder.)

For the families who don’t show up at Open House night, I can send the form by email or text message after a quick call home before the first day of school or during the first week of school.

I’ll even add a link or QR code to the form on the “Welcome to Our Classroom” postcard that I send before Open House Night! Talk about convenience, efficiency, and time-saving! It really doesn’t get any better than that!

Once the spreadsheet is filled out, I’ll print it for my teacher binder OR create a QR code with my ChromeStore Extension, “Quick QR Code Generator,” and print the image to hang on my teacher badge for access anytime and anywhere I need it! P.S. – Your iPhone has a QR scanner in the Control Center or you can easily download one from your app store.

As always, if you’d like to incorporate this time-saving tip but would like a little more help doing so, or have any questions, please use the Contact page to get in touch! I’m happy to help!