Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Case Study of Self Determination Theory

From the Edutopia video that we just watched in GNA's classroom it is clear that Vicki Davis is a motivated as a teacher. At the close of the video she discussed the two main points of her pedagogy, which are empowering students to learn for themselves, and teaching them how to collaborate and the importance of that collaboration. Vicki is passionate about these two ideas and that motivates her and enables her to teach them effectively. Her students feed off of Vicki's motivation and become motivated themselves. Because of Vicki's enthusiasm her students understand the importance of what they are learning, and also because of her obvious motivation her students respect her as an educator and as a colleague so they want to exhibit learning in order to please her. More than just pleasing her though the students in her class have "relatedness" with their classmates, and they want to excel in the classroom so that their peers can benefit from everything that each individual independently learns. Vicki encourages her students to teach each other, both informally and on some occasions formally as they stand up in front of the class to present a prepared lesson. This idea that students have the opportunity to teach themselves and teach each other leads to a sense of autonomy. Students are allowed to explore the digital world and bring back what they find unique, interesting or useful and share it with the class. Students experience high quality motivation in Vicki's classroom because they have free range of their creative avenues (autonomy) and they understand fully that they are an integral part of the educational community that exist both in the classroom and around the world via the internet (relatedness).

Question for Vicki:
It seems that your style of teaching empowerment would prevent students from resisting to learn, but I want to ask, have any of your students ever resisted you by not participating in the learning environment? If yes, what was your response?


  1. Resistance!

    This is part of every teacher's struggle. I was watching Tony Danza on the Today Show today talk about his year as a 10th grade literature teacher. He "lost it" when he was teaching away and looked up and saw one of his students building an origami, totally oblivious to what he was trying to do in class!

    I can identify! To think that all of my students are always motivated or that I'm always motivated for that matter is an unrealistic picture of teaching!

    That being said, expectations are set on the first day. The school year is often determined by the first few weeks. Do I have my lessons well planned? Do I have an organized classroom and routines that the students know and understand that let them turn in work and receive feedback? Do I have high expectations of them? of myself?

    Do they understand WHY I'm doing things in my classroom? Do they understand my teaching philosophy and where we are going? Do my words reflect empowerment?

    When I get frustrated am I just with the student involved so that others (who are watching) see that I'm fair?

    These are the questions we have to ask ourselves as teachers to get through to excellence.

    When I find students who are resisting, they become my mission. I made a promise to myself very early in my teaching career that I would never walk into my classroom unless I could honestly say I loved each and everyone one of my students.

    Love? Are we allowed to say such a thing? Yes!

    I will admit that even this year, I had one day when I had a problem with a student, and I asked the principal if he'd step into my class for a moment so I could walk to catch my breath and adjust my attitude with a student.

    Students are normal - they are just like us. They have good days and bad days. Some days they are motivated and other days they are distraught because their pet died or their parents had a fight. Often, I've found, most resistance has at its heart the pain of living and if I can understand that students do things for a REASON then I can better reach them.

    If students know I care about them, then I can reach them when they resist.

    This is the human aspect of teaching that I think makes a great teacher but is often not spoken of because it is so intangible. With the teachers that have no self-control and have inappropriate relations with their students we have to caution, especially younger teachers, from using such terms as "love" because they will be misconstrued by a public conditioned to think that many teachers are not the nobility that most of us indeed are.

    However, if you love your students, they will know it and they will respond. And it is through that caring and empathy and desire to do whatever it takes to reach them that you can go past resistance.

    And this, Matt, doesn't really have a doggone thing to do with technology and a whole lot to do with plain old human nature.

    Thank you for the great question and the knowledge implied that you know teaching is a bit tougher than can be shown in a brief video!

  2. Wow, that is an awesome message. I will have to remember to reply on your blog when I have time this weekend.