Motivation by Jackie

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Teaching Philosophy
Jackie O’Neal

Aristotle once wrote: “Each human being is bred with a unique set of potentials that yearn to be fulfilled surely as the acorn yearns to become the oak within it.” As a teacher I make it part of practice to help students identify some of these special gifts by polling them at the beginning of the semester. This method does not identify every special ability, but it is a fair start in the direction of planning activities that will involve the student’s strong points and will also be enjoyable. Hence, students can begin to develop some self-confidence and achieve more in class. Offering positive feedback is also helpful in creating student motivation, of course it needs to be balanced- too much praise is not always effective. Of course, it is not an exact science. Plato wrote: :”Never discourage anyone….who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.” In learning new skills, it takes time and patience as well as practice to make progress, therefore even if students make slow progress, it is important to offer encouragement with positive language. Positive language creates positive action and it is necessary to build momemtum towards optimal motivation.
My teaching practice includes making a strong attempt to build a positive rapport with students, hence positive learning experiences are assured in most cases. Building a positive rapport can begin in small ways such as greeting students and using a polite style. Mary Kay, the great entrepreneur , once said: “Pretend everyone is wearing an invisible sign that says : Make me feel important.” This method helps me to realize small actions such as greeting students or asking “What is new today?’ can make a big difference in building rapport. It creates an atmosphere conducive to learning and of emotional safety, so to speak.
I once remember someone saying: “I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed; and the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I keep trying.” I believe in encouraging students not to give up, but rather keep trying to succeed because eventually students can refine their skills this way.

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