Saturday, April 18, 2020

On Grades, Motivation, & Ownership

My brain is all over the place, with it being day thirtysomething of social distancing, but in keeping with my commitment to blog through this time, I thought I would write a few snippets.

During this time, for the majority of our students, grades are no longer a motivating factor (we are handling elementary/middle/high school differently, but the majority of our students really can't fail classes or see their grade go down). Some students and teachers are really struggling with the "why" question now - "Why should I do this work, if it doesn't count for a grade?" It's really showing who loves learning for the sake of learning! On the other hand, I have a (straight-A) kiddo who is freaked out about going to pass/fail because there is no in between.

Motivation is another interesting roller coaster. I'm feeling it, just like the kids are - this is hard, it's tiring, and especially for our kiddos who are socially motivated, it's harder to want to get things done! On the other hand, some kids who struggle in the classroom setting are actually loving the motivation of "spend a couple of hours working really hard, and then you have the rest of the day free!" We are definitely learning more about what works for each individual kid.

Finally, I think we are really seeing dividends with the teachers who have given their students a lot of ownership of their learning, because now, we are relying on that! I even felt it myself, in my private violin teaching - when a student's E string is way out of tune, I usually just grab the instrument and tune it myself (with the peg), because it's so easy to break that string. This time, though, I had to coach my student online, and she did it! It was a great reminder to me that even though it's easier and faster when I do it, the better payoff is to let our students grow into independent learners who can handle themselves. This time is both a growing opportunity for them, and a time when a spotlight is shining on those who do or don't yet have those skills.

Hope you all are staying safe, healthy, and motivated!

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