Student Motivation & the Power of Choice

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At the beginning of the second semester I like to take a time to remind my students of the purpose of school. Each student gets a blank version of the flowchart shown above and I put a copy up on the document camera. I talk them through each box and ask them not just to simply copy down what I have but to personalize it.

We begin by reviewing the six aspects of effective effort and students briefly jot them into the first box. Students then set a goal for their 3rd quarter grade for my class in the “Better Grades” (which I sometimes call “Academic Success”). In the High School Diploma box I ask students to write a description of how they will feel walking accross the stage on graduation day. I lead them through a visualization of this moment (ex. “You look out and see your family, they are smiling. You see your teachers, they are so proud. You feel the excitement of your classmates around you – you’re finally graduating!”) and then have them write. Next I ask them to write down one or two ideas they have for what they would like to study in college, where they would like to go, what activities they would like to be involved in, etc. Then I have them describe their dream jobs in the Career box. In the “Power of Choice” box I encourage them to think about all of the areas of their life they will have control over when they are financially independent: they can choose where to live, they can choose what kind of home to live in, they can support a family, they can provide for their children and their aging parents, they can help out a sibling who is in need, they can afford quality medical care, and so on. I have them write down at least 5 goals (such as “visit Paris” or “own a Mercedes” or “ensure my grandma is taken care of”) they have for their adult lives in the “A Better Life.” Next I push them to think about how their good choices will impact our community. How will they give back? How do they intend to address the problems they currently see around them? Finally, we reflect on how the world they leave their children (or others’ children) will be better because they have lived and made good choices.

I find this activity to be incredibly inspiring both personally and to my students. Try it out! Download the blank template here Success Map.


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