This week I received an email from a parent inquiring why their student was, “Taking surveys about how they liked the class and what they thought about it.” You would think the parent would be congratulating me on taking an interest in what their child thought about my class. At least that was what I was expecting.  The email continued to inquire an explanation of why this is happening and a copy of my curriculum.  That was not the direction I had expected our communication to travel. I have to admit the email did have a connotation.

The author’s son was given a google form that asked him, “What can Mr. S. do to improve your motivation in his class?” The second question asked the student to rank their amount of movement in my physical education class from 1-10.  This was the full extent of the questionnaire.  It was two questions long.  I do not know if the parent knew the extent of the research I was conducting before the email.

Why doesn’t this parent understand what I am doing? Don’t they trust me enough to run my own class?  I had to step back.  I put myself in their shoes. My child comes home and tells me they were using technology in physical education class. This doesn’t seem to make sense on the surface. I get it.  As a teacher I have to be my own best advocate.  I can either become defensive and moan and complain like we hear teachers do all the time, or I can rise to the occasion and educate them on how much education is changing toward becoming student centered.

I am choosing to meet with the parent and educate them as to why it is so important that I infuse technology and student voice/choice into my program.  The main reason I gave the survey is because I wanted to do action research into the motivation of my students during my class. I will start the conversation with this fact from the Michigan University.

Receiving student feedback in the middle of the semester can help you know what you are doing that facilitates the learning of the students and it will help make you aware of any difficulties they may be having with your instruction. (Improving Your Teaching: Obtaining Feedback  Adapted from Black (2000) Center for Research on Learning and Teaching)

This shows concrete evidence why it is so important to have students communicate with the teacher and allow them to understand who they are teaching.

Now that the research supports my practice I will inform her about the Danielson evaluation system.  The system specifically states:

The complexity of teaching requires continued growth and development in order for teachers to remain current. Staying informed and increasing skills allows teachers to become more effective and to exercise leadership among their colleagues. Academic disciplines and pedagogies have evolved. Refine their understanding of how to engage students in learning.

This is the most important part of our conversation.  The model that I get evaluated on demands that I implement these practices. Whether you agree with Danielson’s model or any other they ALL agree that developing and maintaining relationships with students is so important. When we can understand what they want to do, we can understand what motivates them.  This is something that can make my life and the student’s life better. You tell me what you want to learn or do and I will find a way to incorporate that into my lesson.

An example of this is when a student approached me and stated that he hated dance.  I understand this feeling. I am not the best dancer naturally and never practice the skill. This does not bode well for me ever improving in that area. The student stated they would rather be playing basketball. This is a chance to use student voice/choice or pull the power my class my lesson card. The opportunity was perfect to marry what we both wanted to do. I offered the student the idea that they could use basketballs to demonstrate rhythm and movement to a 4X8 meter.  The student accepted and both parties left winners. The point of that anecdote was that when you understand what students want to do and can tie it in with what you want to do learning is more fun and less stress.

This is another opportunity for me to show the world how education has evolved into a place of inclusion instead of exclusion.  We all have gifts and interests.  The trick is finding out what they are in each of our students and encouraging them to pursue what they find enjoyable.

This week will be extra special at #slowchatpe because Sandy Otto will have her class tweeting all week with us!!!  More student voice = more empowerment!  Join us this week to Tweet with @sandyotto class about motivation!

Q1: Do grades motivate students/you to try their/your best? #slowchatpe

Q2: What are motivating words, songs, or movies that inspire you/ss to give it their all? #slowchatpe

Q3: How so you motivate your classmates/ss to work hard and try their best? #slowchatpe

Q4: Do you as a student/teacher get motivated by your classmates/ss? If so when or how? #slowchatpe

Q5: What is something that the school could do to help motivate you? (ts and ss) #slowchatpe


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