Student motivation is so often left out of the equation in talking about schooling and reform. When education is perceived as something that is done to students rather than with them, it tends to result in standardization, low expectations, thin content and lack of rigor. Deeper learning comes through conversation and both sides have to have a voice and be motivated in a conversation.
There is an effort to study this across the bay from us in Redwood City by the John Gardner Center at Stanford University. Their investigations into middle school classrooms so far show that:
- A safe and caring setting is the ideal climate for learning.
- Caring classrooms have students who treat one another with respect and teachers who foster this behavior by letting students know they are not allowed to make fun of others for a wrong answer or mistake.
- They also set aside time for one-on-one conferences to provide individual feedback regarding students’ growth and areas for improvement — as opposed to public feedback that make comparisons between students.
- They create opportunities for students to revise their work.
- Low-income students are especially motivated by caring classrooms.
You can read about it in the Mercury News here as long as the link stays live.