Jessica Lahey’s superhero power is her ability to synthesize reams of educational and behavioral research into something relevant, meaningful, and actionable. She did just that in her UC20 presentation, "The Gift of Failure: Fostering Intrinsic Motivation and Resilience in Kids," which should be required watching for both parents and educators navigating the current challenges of raising and teaching children during such uncertain times.
Our children have faced a great deal of disappointment and even trauma in the face of COVID-19. Many students may feel powerless and fall victim to learned helplessness traps. Jessica noted that the learned helplessness remedy aligns with raising resilient kids who are set up to reach their potential. Provide them with opportunities to control something in their world and help them cultivate intrinsic motivation. Demonstrate that we know our kids are capable and we trust them to make solid decisions, or we trust them to learn and iterate when they do stumble.
Intrinsic motivation is critical to raising lifelong learners.
The key ingredients of intrinsic motivation are:
Interestingly, Jessica feared she was “biting the hand that feeds her” when she was critical of online grading portals. You know, the kind of online grading portal that Blackbaud's education management solutions offer. #awkward.
Don’t worry, Jessica! We couldn’t agree more that there's a danger in providing 24-hour-a-day access to student grades without context, and that those A-F grades can put the focus on the wrong extrinsic motivators. That’s why we’re thrilled about our new Competency-Based Education (CBE) features that shift the conversation away from the points earned on an assignment and refocus students on the actual learning and mastery of skills. Learn more about Blackbaud’s CBE features here.
Another key take-away from Jessica’s talk is the importance of the student-teacher relationship to learning. Regardless of how education is delivered this fall—whether face-to-face or through distance learning, educators must work to find that common ground with each student. Understand their learning goals and honor them as individuals.
It’s not enough to expose students to educational content. It's the personal connection made through the student-teacher relationship that drives real understanding and knowledge retention. Teachers then have the opportunity to use that personal connection to guide students through desirable difficulties. By showing students that they are capable of persevering through difficult challenges, we'll unlock their full potential.
The above recap is just the tip of the iceberg. Check out the full playback here.
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