Meeting Needs & Motivation
According to Choice Theory developed by William Glasser people behave to meet the basic needs of "safety & security, connection & belonging, power & competence, freedom & autonomy and enjoyment & fun". All behavior serves a purpose and that purpose is to meet ones' needs at any particular moment in time. Conscious Discipline is a brain state model of classroom management that seeks to help children meet their basic needs of safety and connection so they can operate in the higher centers of the brain for increased learning. We must strive to create conditions under which a child's needs are met if we want more of what we teach to actually be learned.
We all have the same basic needs. However we possess them to different degrees. One person may have a strong need for safety and security while another may work very hard for freedom and autonomy. However, all of us need safety and connection in order to learn best. Our behavior and personalities will reflect the degree to which we possess each of the basic needs. Armed with this knowledge, teachers can work to build a better understanding of students and structure learning experiences for the current students they are working with.
Safety & Security
Safety & Security
- The brain will always ask the question, "Am I safe?" first. If a person is not feeling safe, the stress response can take over (which is housed in the lower brain centers focused on survival). This puts all new learning on hold while the brain focuses on safety. The body must go to work metabolizing toxic stress chemicals. If a student has a "toxic" bus ride, it takes hours for the body to take care of those survival chemicals.
- Taking time to teach social intelligence, routines, rituals and procedures helps students meet the need of safety and security by helping them know what is expected in given situations. Structuring a classroom where students feel safe, secure, and experience a sense of unity will result in more willingness to take risks in new situations. It has to be "OK" and safe to make mistakes and fail.
- Having routines, rituals and procedures in place for recurring situations and taking the time to practice them for time efficiency in the beginning will result in more learning time on the other end. Beat the clock games are fun ways to learn routines and rituals that address classroom procedures which will in turn help meet the need for enjoyment and fun.
- We are all social beings. A sense of unity and to feel that one belongs is a basic need for everyone regardless of age.
- Most children will choose to cooperate rather than compete when given a choice. I have watched this over and over again as young children design games around a learning target in physical education classes.
- Using cooperative learning techniques, inclusive games, class rituals that focus on connection, fostering positive social interactions, working to create positive relationships with students and creating a learning community built on unity in which trust is fostered, helps to meet the basic need of connection to others and a sense of belonging.
Power & Competence
- We meet the need for power and competence by working hard to build skills and being successful.
- Educational tasks should be challenging but attainable. Differentiated instruction helps teachers meet student's need for competence.
- Planning for success at the outset gives a shot of dopamine which will foster motivation to move on to the next challenge. (When using a progression of tasks in class the first 2 or 3 should be attainable by all students, giving everyone an entrance point and success at the outset. From there, some students will move quickly through several challenges until they are more challenged and some will need more time a lot sooner but they are all growing.
- If a student is overwhelmed by the task at hand and continually fails even though he/she is trying he/she cannot meet the need for power and competence and will more than likely find another way to meet this need. Possibly by resorting to disruptive behavior.
- Creating a grading system whereby students are held accountable for making progress from where they are beginning, show evidence of their learning, and can track their own progress, allows for all students to experience success and meet this basic need.
- Creating a clear definition of success and involving students in the process further meets the need for control.
- Holding students accountable for the work habits that are valued in the class or learning community places value in this area. This creates another area in which all students can shine, making positive choices and be recognized for them. KIPP Schools consider the development of character strengths as important as teaching academic skills.
- Provide as many choices as you can when planning to help students meet the learning goals. There is always more than one way to get to the same place. Sometimes they don't see all of the choices available, let them know when they have the ability to make choices.
- Use games, movement, humor, skits, funny voices, music, props, rhyme, flavor, scent, stories, role plays, celebration, controversy, poems and social interactions to engage emotion and insert some fun into the learning process. People go back for more of what they enjoy most.
- A good rubric or scale is essential for students to see their "target" but you don't need a rubric to measure joyful learning!!! You just know when it's there.
Students all come with different degrees/ratios of needs including safety & security, connection & belonging, power & competence, freedom & autonomy and fun & enjoyment, how will this influence my planning?