What’s your carrot?

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Are you using rewards to motivate students?  Does it work? Daniel Pink has challenged me to rethink what I thought I knew about motivating people. The misconception that if something is rewarded, it will occur more frequently is common.  In my classroom, I hope to promote autonomy, mastery, and purpose. I fear that many times, I’ve only used rewards as a stick and carrot.  So often, teachers (myself included) reward students incorrectly. 

Pink asserts that external rewards will frequently work for mechanical and basic cognitive skills, but rewards don’t work for conceptual, creative thinking.  This more complex thinking is what we are striving for with our students.  Again, thinking about my own career. A master’s degree doesn’t accomplish much financially in for a teacher in the classroom.  I am motivated to work and learn because I have an urge to improve myself.  My reward is intrinsic.

Considering this, I need to ask myself, “Am I effectively rewarding behaviors I want to target?”  My goal in the classroom should be more focused on students deeper learning.

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