Middle-School Motivation

Academic Dean Denise Savidge

Academic Dean Denise Savidge

I’m the “new teacher” at Cherokee Creek. With a bit of trepidation and excitement, I set forth to get to know my students and discover what motivates them to perform.


Motivation…It means many different things to everyone. What works as a motivator for one person is of no interest to another. Some folks are self-motivated, others need the carrot on the stick just outside of their reach to keep moving forward. To some it’s money, to some it’s power, to some it’s prestige. Others haven’t given it a thought because their motivation is just the desire to do something well because it’s the right thing to do.

Most teachers teach just to see a child smile. To make a child’s life easier. To make a difference. Plus it’s pretty comical stuff on any given day, and teachers like to laugh. And middle-school boys keep a scorecard on how many others they can amuse in one day.

In class the other day, I handed the boys a motivation checklist. I really wanted to know what was going to make them produce…What would help them do their best…Which carrot smelled the most delicious to an adolecsent boy. Silly me. They’re not about to let that nut get cracked by simply asking. No, this was an opportunity to ignore the multiple choice answers and make it a fill-in-the-blank adventure. It was a perfect occasion to amuse  and entertain the new teacher. The multiple choice answers focussed on peer praise, prizes, prestige or public recognition. But ours are not fill-in-the-bubble boys. They quickly unraveled the code of answers and decided they had better ideas:

Q – If you really did well on your science project, what would you prefer the teacher do?
A – Keep Quiet!
Q – You are on a roller coaster and a photographer from a newspaper takes your picture. It appears on the front page the next day. What do you do?
A – Sue the newspaper company.
Q – What do you like best about your birthday?
A – That the Good Lord has given me another year.
Q – If you found a $10 bill on the playground and turned it in to the school office, what would you want the principal to do?
A – Give it to ME!

Pity the teacher who asks our students to answer within the box. They’re innovative, creative, amusing and charming young men. It’s been a delightful ride to get to know them.

When are you a teacher and why do you teach? Do you know what motivates the different members of your family? Do they know what motivates you?

posted by jleslie in Discovering What is Real and True and have Comment (1)