Teacher Inspiration

Teacher Inspiration - What Framework Should One Use for Such a Diary?

To aid in motivating Japanese students you may want to divide it up into different age groups or even different groups ie) people studying to be flight attendants, university science majors, or children aged 4-5 years old. My teaching context: (consists of teaching motivated adult learners at my own chain of schools, a mix of motivated and unmotivated learners at a private junior high school, as well as some motivated and unmotivated learners in some required English Writing and Speaking classes at university in Japan).

Teacher Inspiration - I have chosen the following framework for my diary:

Age Group/Group

ie) *1st year university students,

*junior high students,

*salarymen etc.

* Motivational Strategy Used

* Observable Effects

* Interpretation of Effects *


— Was the motivational strategy successful or not?

Teacher Inspiration - In the Age Group/Group Category:

I keep detailed notes on what works and does not for each group.

By using a framework like the one above, this allows for easy reference in the coming months and years, as memory fades, and you wonder which activities were successful, and which were not.

Teacher Inspiration - Characteristics of Each Group

As each group varies, noting the specifics of each group is extremely important.

For example a group of first year science majors will be motivated by different strategies than will first year physical education or serious sports majors.

Salarymen and housewives will be different again in what motivates them to study.

Teacher Inspiration - Motivational Strategy Used:

Zoltan Dornyei, arguably one of the experts on motivation in language learning has a table of motivational strategies in his book, “Motivational Stategies in the Language Classroom,” Cambridge University Press p. 137-144.

This is the list of strategies I have used in my diary. You may choose to use your own.

Teacher Inspiration - Observable Effects:

In this section of the diary you will note what you see. You try not to interpret as that is for the next section. You dispassionately note what you see. Are they doing the activity you asked them to do? What I am describing here is much like Jack C. Richards description of lesson reports: “A lesson report is a structured inventory or list which enables teachers to describe their recollections of the main features of a lesson. The purpose of a lesson report is to give the teacher a quick and simple procedure for regularly monitoring what happened during a lesson, how much time was spent on different parts of a lesson, and how effective the lesson was…a lesson report describes what actually happened from the teacher`s point of view.” Jack C. Richards, p. 9 Reflective Teaching…...

Teacher Inspiration - Interpretation of Effects:

Here you note how well things went.

Were the students motivated? Or were they feeling ill today so no amount of motivation would have been of benefit?

Did their boyfriend or girlfriend break up with them?

Could there have been other factors that influenced whether they were motivated to learn this class or not?

Indeed many topics can be explored as Jack C. Richards espouses:

“Personal rections to things that happen in the classroom or in the school. Questions or observations about problems that occur in teaching. Descriptions of significant aspects of lessons or school events. Ideas for future analysis or reminders of things to take action on.” Jack C. Richards, p. 7 “Reflective Teaching in Second Language Classrooms,” Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Teacher Inspiration - Conclusion:

Anything else worthy of note, that could help you down the road. Basicly anything that you haven`t covered and a concise conclusion for easy reference in the future. The difficulties of course, with this research method is that so much of it is subjective.

You cannot get into each students` head to know what they are thinking, and what exactly is motivating them to learn, or in some cases, demotivating them. If it is the latter, was it the motivational strategy you chose, or something more simple like a stomachache?

Over time however, as you get to know your students, you can come to have an intuitive idea of what works with their particular group and what doesn`t.

The diary is an add on, and proof of this. It is an easy reference for the teacher, who is often very busy and needs something easily referenced and full of practical tips that apply to his or her classroom situation.

Indeed some of the motivational strategies that you will use, will aid in your interpretations of how things are going. Motivational strategies like getting to know your students will help you to know if they are just tired today, feeling sad or sick, or that they just don`t enjoy this learning activitity. Without knowing them or having a sense of them as individuals, it is very difficult to interpret their true feelings towards your motivational strategies.

Teacher Inspiration - How to Keep the Diary

I simply use a notebook that you can find in any stationary store in Japan. You may want to use a binder with sections or another system. I simply use an A4 notebook.

On the cover, I write the name of the class and the day and time it occurs. I also write what group it is on the cover as a reminder ie) flight attendants, 4-5 year olds, housewives, or first year university compulsory speaking class students etc. For each diary entry, I write the date at the top right. It should be noted that within one class there may be several different, unique groups.

In one of my university classes I had in approximately equal proportions: law students, and physical education majors. To go with them, another 15% of the class were serious sports majors. I found that what would motivate the law students would not necessarily motivate the serious sports majors, nor the physical education majors.

Next, I write:

Motivational Strategy Used, I give myself 2-4 lines to describe which strategy used. I often use less space if it is a strategy I am familiar with ie) humour. Or I will use more space if it is a strategy I have never tried and need to be able to go back later and see it described concisely in my diary. Then further down the page, I write: “Observable Effects.” Here I give myself half a page or more to make a good entry.

If it is a large class, there may be many, varied effects. I may need to break down what I have seen into percentages to have an idea of how the motivational strategy worked or didn`t and with whom it worked. Did it motivate the physical education majors, or not? Did it motivate the law students, or not? Did it motivate both groups? You really need to try to be objective with this part of the diary. Try to imagine yourself as a neutral observer, a scientist who is only looking for the facts. The facts and nothing else.

Further down the page or perhaps on the next page if I have written a lot all ready, I will write interpretation of effects. It is often a good idea to do this entry after a cooling off period. This is especially true if the class did not go well or worse, was a disaster.

Here it is important that you have gotten to know your students well. Students will tell you a surprising amount about their personal lives if they trust you and if you too, have shared with them. I tell personal anecdotes to half the class and use this as a task-based activity. It is a good speaking activity and a good way for them to get to know me better.

I also write letters to them and have them write one back to me. Again they reveal a surprising amount about what is happening in their lives: “Kevin my boyfriend and I had a big fight,” or “My mother often gets angry at my brother and I…” If your students have experienced these events recently, then it may be difficult to motivate them no matter what strategy you use.

Teacher Inspiration - Problems with Keeping a Motivation Diary

Some may argue that since diaries/blogs are written retrospectively, with degradation in accuracy over time, and offer a highly subjective stance, their importance as a research tool is weakened. ‘Few people would claim that a diary is a ‘true record’; rather that, in Elliott’s words, it can “convey a feeling of what it was like to be there participating in it” (1991:77; from McDonough and McDonough,1997:124).

Although Nunan (1992:124) admits to the value of diary studies, he has argued that they may be considered ‘a ground clearing preliminary to psychometric research’. –Renata Suzuki, TESL-EJ Vol. 8 No. 1

As one is writing after the fact, one`s memory fades. Also is your interpretation of events truly accurate? If a teaching activity went well was it indeed due to motivating your students well, or other factors?

The same goes for a motivational disaster. Was it the motivational technique employed or simply some other factor?

There are probably some days, where things are simply not going to go well no matter what motivational technique you employ. As teachers we have to be prepared for these and soldier on. Yet we should never give up the ship. Teaching is a marathon not a sprint. So we must get over the occasional dip in the road and run on. Soon the crest of the hill will come, and we will have the wind at our back. However I would argue that the unabashedly biased perspective of the diary might provide a more honest perspective on the messy truth than do numerical research findings.

Nunan has advice that may be helpful for us in motivating Japanese students.

According to Nunan (1992:12):

Our willingness to accept or reject a particular research methodology depends on our philosophical perceptions of the notion of truth and our belief in the nature of knowledge. A researcher may thus prefer a quantitative approach, objective, scientific, which attempts to provide replicable ‘hard’ data using controlled measurement in order to verify generalizable statements (having a high external validity), or a qualitative perspective which is discovery- and process–oriented, exploratory, naturalistic and subjective, concerned with understanding human behavior from an ‘insider’ perspective (Reichardt and Cook 1979 in Nunan, 1992:4).

Teacher Inspiration - How do you Motivate Yourself?

This is a question I asked myself as I wrote this article.

Motivation is what Mom Goals is about. Offering help with goal setting, time management and living the life of your dreams for busy moms. Motivate yourself at Mom Goals.

Teacher Inspiration - Motivation Diary

Using a motivation diary is another method we can employ to improve ourselves as teachers. It takes courage to look at ourselves and read about our ups and downs over the months and years. That said, it is beneficial and worth the effort in the long run. Most would agree that being the best teacher we can was what we set out to do when we first started out as English teachers. Keeping a motivation diary is just another way of pursuing this worthy endeavor.

Teacher Inspiration 2011

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