Sierra Feliciano EDUC 205 Analytical Reflection 2 In observing Miss W, a third grade teacher at 32 nd street school, I have gained a lot of valuable insight into what it means to be a good teacher. In addition, in comparing Miss W to the first teacher I observed—Ms. M, a second grade teacher also from 32 nd street school—I learned even more about how to improve the learning process of my future students through motivation. The quality that differentiates the teaching styles of the two teachers I observed is the way in which they motivate their students. I noticed the differences between the two classrooms the moment I walked in; Miss W’s class was significantly better behaved than Ms. M’s classroom. As I continued my observation of Miss W, I also noticed a major difference in that the students actually did as they were told, and did the work that was assigned. Upon closer inspection I found that the quality that distinguished these two classrooms from each other was the behavior, not of the students, but of the teacher. Miss W is a young energetic woman that is very active in her teaching style, she walks among the students and is positive and loving towards them. On more than one occasion she refers to numerous students as “honey” and other endearing names. In addition, Miss W always noticed and commented on good behavior and gave positive feedback to the students: “Alex, beautiful job following directions!” In contrast, Ms. M is an older woman that spent the majority of class time at her desk. Rather than using well behaved students as examples, Ms. M pointed out the students that are misbehaving: “Spencer, sit down, stop talking, and do your work.” While Miss W relies on positive reinforcement to encourage and motivate her students to behave, Ms. M relies on presentation punishment. With Miss W’s strategy, students were eager to be given similar positive reinforcement, making them more motivated Feliciano 2 to behave in such a way that will earn them recognition. Ms. M’s students however were not motivated by her strategy of presentation punishment because they obeyed for a time, but soon went right back to doing what they were told not to do. Another difference between the teachers that I noticed was the way in which they handled student discipline. After learning in lecture that time outs were ineffective, I was saddened to see Ms. M using that tactic as a way to discipline her students. I was particularly bothered by the fact that one student was put in the corner while Ms. M taught an entire lesson. After she had assigned the seat work, the boy timidly emerged from the corner and asked if he could please go to his desk and do his work. It was obvious that Ms. M had forgotten that she had placed this boy in time-out because he was there for entirely too long. In addition, after he asked if he could sit and do his work, she told him that he could only sit down if he stopped bothering everyone around him. I only witnessed Miss W disciplining a student on one occasion. It was after school, and I suspect that the boy had had several problems with discipline in the past because he had a paper that he needed her to sign. Miss W asked him how he thought he had been behaving that week and he replied that he thought he was doing fine. She informed him that a classmate had said that he was disruptive in class, and then asked him what he thought would be an appropriate punishment. His response was inaudible to me, but she replied by telling him that only he was responsible for regulating his own behavior and that he was improving his behavior significantly. In the classroom, whenever Miss W wanted students to behave in a certain way she asked politely: “Eyes up here please…Thank you.” The differences in the ways these two teachers handled disciplinary issues taught me more about motivation. In the case of Ms. Ms’s student, time-outs were not an effective way to motivate the child to behave because it does not give any responsibility to Feliciano 3 the student. According to Weiner’s Theory of Causal Attribution (Woolfolk 354) students are motivated when they have an internal locus and control over the situation. The child that was placed on time-out for an extended period of time had an external locus because the cause of his time-out was based on Ms. M’s perception of his behavior and was not controllable. Thus this student is not likely to be motivated to behave better in the future because he may feel that it is not his fault or under his control. Miss W’s student on the other hand was asked about his behavior and what an acceptable punishment might be. He was also reminded that his behavior was entirely up to him and that he was improving. This child is much more likely according to Weiner’s theory to be motivated to behave because he has an internal locus and because he has some control over what the outcome of his behavior will be. The differences between the students’ behavior in the classroom after the discipline was given was startlingly different. Ms. M’s student continued to be disruptive, did not finish his work and was kept in for recess, while Miss W’s student was attentive in class, finished all of his work, and even helped Miss W collect the materials from the project after the class had finished. In addition, the differences between the teachers’ styles of managing the classroom are significant to motivation as well. Ms. M’s tendency to make clear and straightforward orders compared to Miss W’s habit of asking politely and thanking the students for good behavior invite different levels of motivation. According to the humanistic approach to motivation (Woolfolk 353) personal freedom, choice, self-determination and striving for personal growth are all qualities that boost motivation. When a teacher asks “Please look up here” she is giving the students personal freedom, choice, and self-determination and in turn their motivation to listen and obey grow because it is up to them whether to look or not. In contrast, saying “All eyes up here” while technically seeking the same behavior, takes away a Feliciano 4 student’s personal freedom, choice, and self-determination and thus lowers their motivation because it is demanding that they subject themselves to the rules of another person. The new understanding that I have gained about the teaching and learning process that will help to inform my future instruction as a teacher is that motivating the students to learn, to behave, and to obey is the key to having a well managed, classroom. The role of teacher as a motivating force in the student’s lives is an important and valuable one. Motivation is perhaps the most important factor in a student’s education; it separates those who learn and succeed, from those who do not learn and fail. In my observations I found that the way that the teacher treated the students and how the teacher acted in general influenced the students’ motivation to learn, behave, and obey the teacher. Miss W responded to my comment about how well behaved her students were with several pieces of very good advice that I have taken to heart and found to be supported in the text book. Miss W told me that on the first day of school she started a class discussion to decide what the class rules would be. “I think there is too much emphasis placed on what kids are not allowed to do and no one tells them what they should be doing. I tried to focus the conversation on what they should be doing rather than what they shouldn’t be doing” (Miss W). The class came up with a list of “expectations” and Miss W told me that the students liked the fact that they were active in the creation of the expectations and were therefore more likely to live up to them. Woolfolk talks about how self-determination plays a big role in shaping the level of motivation of students. When students have more of a say in determining the path of their lives, they are more motivated to continue on the path than if it was imposed by some one else. (Woolfolk 371) Similarly, we discussed the quality of choice in lecture as it is related to motivation. In giving the students a choice about what should be an expectation, Miss W is increasing the students’ motivation to Feliciano 5 follow what they themselves have chosen. The concepts of self-determination and choice as ways to motivate students are powerful and important messages for me, because they stress the fact that the teacher plays an extensive role in the motivation of students, not only extrinsically, but intrinsically as well. In the example above, the students are not motivated to live up to the expectations because Miss W told them to, rather they felt intrinsically motivated to live up to the expectations because they felt that those expectations were important to them. My observations have taught me that as a future teacher I need to put considerable effort into maintaining a democratic classroom in which students have considerable say in their own learning experience. I need to make sure that my students are operating on the maximum level of motivation possible by giving them every opportunity to enjoy learning and feel like they have an active role in their education. My observations have also taught me that discipline is an important issue in the classroom and the way that discipline is handled can have a substantial effect on motivation. Miss W’s style of positive reinforcement, compared to Ms. M’s style of presentation punishment, is a much better mode of handling discipline because it encourages students to keep their minds on the positive and behave in a similar manner. In addition, Woolfolk states that “teachers can improve student behavior by ignoring rule-breakers and praising students who are following the rules” (Woolfolk 209). As a future teacher I would modify Ms. M’s use of direct orders and her focus on misbehaving students and use positive feedback to focus class attention to students that are behaving appropriately. Motivating students is arguably the most important aspect of having a well managed classroom in which the learning environment is rich and the students are participating actively Feliciano 6 in their education. In many cases it is up to the teacher to create a learning environment in which the students feel motivated to learn. Through my observations I was lucky enough to see two classrooms that were significantly different, that really showed me the value of positive reinforcement and active student participation in creating a motivating force for the students.