Saturday, September 3, 2011

invitational learning

At school, many of the teachers are participating in an invitational learning project.  It's self directed, and based in part on Dan Pink's work, Drive.  Each person participating chooses something meaningful to them to learn/study/practise for the month of September.  We are modelling it for our students as an example of intrinsic motivation (for non-teachers, that just means motivation from inside of us, not because we will get an external or extrinsic reward).  Intrinsic motivation is key to learning.  When students are only learning because that mean old bag (insert teacher's name here), is making them or to get the reward at the end, it is not nearly as meaningful or long-lasting.  An example would be memorizing spelling words for a weekly spelling test.  Great, you memorized 10 words, got perfect on the test and then couldn`t spell them correctly again in day to day writing if your life depended on it.  Get it?

So anyway, we are all choosing meaningful to us projects that we will share publicly.  My friend and colleague, Cathy, has spearheaded this project and has done a fabulous job painting the front bulletin board at school and posting our smiling faces.  It is the first thing students and parents will see upon entering the school.  Now that's putting ourselves out there!

Here's a link to Dan Pink's video about motivation if you're so inspired:
It's worth watching--and entertaining.

My invitational learning project is learning the habit of daily yoga practice.  The only thing keeping me from doing daily yoga is myself.  I want to develop the daily habit.  I don't mean a 90 minute practice every single day, but even 20 minutes of asana, 10 minutes of savasana and some meditation.  Sounds easy, right?  Not really.  My yoga practice has been sorely lacking over the summer.  Why?  Laziness maybe, ADD (seriously, I am all over the place lately), lack of motivation.  In some ways the motivation is extrinsic--I won't fail my students, or fail publicly.  But by the end of the month that daily practice should be intrinsically motivating.  Daily intention to ground me.  Time to myself (this is huge for moms).  Lower blood pressure.  Bendiness and nicer feeling joints and muscles.  Peace. 

Now I am me, and not all happy dappy and hippie dippy.  I can see some issues with this project.  And in a not very yoga way, I'm going to point out that it will give fuel to the self-righteous.  I am not interested in the gloating, bragging of some people.  I don't care that some projects will be the project to end all projects, and only done properly by a select few.  And I won't have much tolerance for the opinion that we should all bow down and do as others are doing (or say they are doing....).  There are those who miss the point and will nauseate the rest of us with the endless yammering on of how wonderful they are, and their work is the only worthwhile work.  What-freakin'-ever.  I will bite my tongue and close my door.  I am doing this for me, and by extension for the kids.  I can almost hear the chuckles of some of my colleagues as they read this post.  At least this paragraph.  In fact, I'm giggling to myself.  Sometimes I wish I could just say these things out loud.  But I am following my intention that I have set for myself--play nicely with others.  :)

Goals, intentions, they are all valuable teaching and learning tools.  I feel fortunate and grateful to have a wonderful group of people to work with--they inspire me daily.  The goals that my colleagues set for themselves should be commended and recognized.  So I am doing that here.  I think our students are very lucky kids to have such a committed and wonderful bunch of teachers at our school.  You guys rock!  And I'm happy to be part of such a great staff.

Namaste friends, I look forward to your successes (and my own).

Happy long weekend! 

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