Tony Gurr

Motivating our LEARNers…or “Co-Creating” a CLIMATE of LEARNacy?

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Our Schools, Our Universities, Teacher Learning on 12/06/2013 at 1:51 pm

YES (red exlam tilted)

…I know!


A few of you are saying things like:

The SECRET (Expletive)

Hey…do not shoot the “postman”!


OK…let me call on a few “bigger” guns…to convince you:


Motivation (and fishing)


You want a “bigger gun”?


The SECRET (Covey)

Go ondisagree with my favourite rahmetli hocam – I dare you!





Let me tell you…some of the real “secrets”


we have to go a bit negative on our own asses (or “arses“)…just for a wee minute (go on…guess away at my cultural heritage there)!


Firstly, “motivation” in the classroom (or out of it for that matter) is not about:

Motivation (sweeties)

Dentists just hate us when we do that!


Nor is it about:


No, you cannot watch another movie for 2 hours…Zeynep!

It’s not Friday, yet!

It ain’t

It ain’t even about the TECHnology we use:

Is is the TECH or the QUESTIONS

My “digital cheerleader” pals are gonna hate me for throwing that one in!


It should also never be about…

Motivation (abdication and Darth Principal)

Darth…is that a “carrot” or a “stick” in your mechanical hand?

…or are you just happy to see…my kids in detention again? We call that strategy “abdication of responsibility” (where I come from – did you guess, yet)…and you’ll never pass probation like that!


Good TEACHersGreat EDUcatorsjust know:

Classroom Management (feet)


Oh, yes…and, always make sure this is LOUDest message in the room:

Success (in my classroom)

…through who they are, what they do and how they LEARN themselves!


The alternative…?

Ms Pushover


But, motivation is about sooooooo much more than “classroom management” – perhaps, we should say CLASSroom LEADERship“…


Besides, didn’t we already say:

The SECRET (Really, really)


As I hinted, in my post early last week:

3 things from 30 years

…that last one is kinda important, esp. the bit about the “voice“!


When we ask “kids” and I have worked my way through pre-school to supporting PhD candidates – they frequently tell us they want certain things…things that do not vary that much:




Yes, that one at the top of list…is the one they say the most (esp. when they are not very “happy”).

Time we start to “hear” it…


OK – don’t believe me and my preference for very unscientific methods…other “big guns” (female, this time – to show you I am an “equal opportunities” blogger):


TEACHing and LEARNing

Told you so!


Take a closer look at MY list again – yes, I know that Julia and Jean’s has a sexier “soundbite” quality to it – but mine is also based on what kids and young adults have told me again and again…and again.

Honest – look at that face of mine…you could buy a second-hand car from me!


What other elements do you see?


John Hattie (quote)


What’s all that stuff about “real”?

Yes, I know Julia and Jean said that, too!

But what does it mean for YOU…for your LEARNers?


Another “big gun”, anyone?


Palmer QUOTATION - Circle of Trust


A “cannon”, perhaps?

Rogers QUOTE (Facilitation of LEARNing)


…and three cannonballs, me thunks:

3 cannonballs (quotes Carl Rogers)

I know…another “guy” talking about “guys”!

But…he is “THE guy”!


Yesterday, Laurence talked about “allowing” kids to keep in touch with their “childlike heart” duh…they are kids…and even young adults (and TEACHers) respond to this approach.


It’s about being “real”NOT just “covering” the curriculum!


It’s about LEARNingNOT just “TEACHing at” them!


Learnacy ZONE


It’s about LEARNacy


  1. Tony, you write about teachers working with students in small groups. You even write about the obsoleteness of covering the curriculum. Moreover, you suggest teachers make learning lively! All that is super stuff, and you must be the Superman from Krypton, but the question still remains: How?

    • Hocam,

      I think this is the point I was making…many TEACHers think they have to be Superman (or Superwoman).

      They do not.

      Nor, do they need to focus on “HOW” others might do it…as the starting point. We need to start where it ends…student LEARNing, student VOICES, student ISSUES…and how we engage with these three issues as TEACHers.

      The bag o’ magic tricks is something we have been conned into thunking will solve all our problems – the textbook is usually the biggest item in this magic bag. These “tricks” were developed by others, for others and in (very different) other contexts.

      We do not have to solve every problem overnight…but we do need to focus on “what matters”…a lot more.

      Remember, what you did with the video recording and your students…remember how engaged both you and the students?

      Yes, you are right…many of us operate in tough contexts. However, if we waste all our energy on everything in our “circle of concern” (yani – all the stuff we could worry about), we’ll be exhausted – focusing in a couple of elements in our “circle of influence” (the stuff we can control). More and more TEACHers getting more and success in those areas is the thing that will build momentum.

      As for “curriculum” – yes, I have said that many curricular (dare I say…”pacing guidelines”…because that’s what most of them are) are over-crowded, based on unrealistic assumptions and leave very little room for TEACHers to be creative. But, the impossible just takes a wee bit longer 😉 As we have discussed at length, more of the same really ain’t the solution! It ain’t…

      I’m reading Seth Godin’s – “The Icarus Deception” – at the moment (yes, do you “smell” the blog post, too). He says a lot about how we (not TEACHers specifically – but it could have written for us) need to treat our “work” as a form of “art”…rather than listen to our “dads” (OK…perhaps Icarus should have). The thrust of the book is how systems (and bosses) have actually “tricked” us all to “play it safe”…play the same game.

      Seth also reminds us of something very interesting – something we often forget:

      Icarus was also warned not to fly too low…because sea water would “ruin” the lift in his wings.

      This “new” moral of the Icarus story – “…flying too low is even more dangerous than flying too high”! Yes, we feel safe – and it’s easy to point fingers when we look at all the “bad” stuff around us – rather than “make art”!

      The question “HOW (do others do it)”does not make artthat comes from inside us 😉


      P.S: But…YES…there is another “part” to the mini-dizi…that might help with a few thunks 😉 Be good, hocam!

  2. I really like Tony’s blogging style. In fact, I think his style is amazing. The visuals that he put on his post was not just a picture related to his sentences, but the visual images that he had had words which was also a message for us along with his sentences. It was totally impossible to get bored while reading his post because since the visuals also had a deep, specific messages to us and there were at least one of them in each paragraphs. I have to say, the visuals just really hooked me and lead me to scroll down his blog and read even more of his posts because they kept on coming.

    Tony’s point was very appealing to me because I had the exact same thought as him and I totally agreed with his opinion, too. People can’t motivate us to study on certain courses that we just don’t like. The picture that said “When we catch fish, we don’t bait with what the fishermen likes, but what fish likes.” If we don’t like what we are doing, it is impossible for us to do good on that, or even like it because we just hate doing that certain thing. For an example, sometimes in classes, I have my days when I just get really lazy and bored so I just can’t focus on my work that I am supposed to do. Although I really like what I am doing, I just don’t feel like doing it no matter how easy the worksheet is. Also, let’s say there’s a student who hates math. Even if we give him the easiest math questions in the world, he won’t solve it not because he can’t, but because he doesn’t want to. When teachers give him math worksheets for homework, he will have to do it no matter how much he hates math but when he is free and he had an option of doing things, he would never choose to do a math worksheet. It is just impossible to force other people to like doing certain things. They have to realize the joy of doing that first before they do it. If they don’t like to do that thing, they will have to find something else that they like doing.

    Also, when there is a super long double block period and students have to work on worksheets all day, it’s just not fun. But for students who like doing that, they want to do even quadraple block periods on that same class. Although for students who don’t like doing that, it is a torture which feels like years but for students who love doing that, it feels so good to do it and the time goes so fast for them. Just think of it as this way. Say that you are having a party for 8 hours straight. That time would go so fast and you would have so much fun that you won’t even realize that much time had passed. But say that you hate science and you have to do a worksheet about that for just 2 hours straight. You probably can’t endure it and it would feel like years.

    In conclusion, I agree with Tony’s point on how it is not possible for other people to try to motivate us to like doing something. We have to realize the joy of doing it. If we can’t we find something else that we like doing.

    • Jun,

      Thank you sooooooo much for taking the time to get me (us) your “thunks” on the post – and the thunks in the post 😉 I am so happy to hear your voice – and I think others will be, too.

      Now, I’m guessing you are a teenager – but you write so articulately and clearly…besides, you AGREE with me…Phew! …and, not just on my use of visuals.

      “Style” in blogging is a difficult thing to assess. I know many people (even “older guys” like me…yes, Adam?) find my blogging style really gets on their nerves…others really like it. There’s a saying (in Turkish)…“zevkler ve renkler tartışılmaz” (Go on, look it up on Google Translate) – what matters is “content” 😉

      What do you think about this saying?

      At the moment we are having a lot of trouble here in Turkey (I call her “canim Türkiyem”)…and much of this is the result of a lack of tolerance and willingness to accept “difference” across the country.

      Life, good living…is about listening to the voices of others…and caring enough to takes THOSE voices into account in our decision-making.

      TEACHingLEARNing…and “change” in EDUcation need these same things…so much.

      Yes, I know…a bit “heavy” (and not like my “usual” style at all)…but I thunk you can handle it…and maybe get me another reply 😉

      Take care,


  3. Hi, my name is Isaac and I’m from Ms. Lees’ English 10 class. Here is my response to your blog post:

  4. Hi,

    My name is Melissa and I’m from Ms. Lees’ English 10 class!

    Check out my response to your motivation post! 🙂

    • Melissa,

      YOU are a STAR 😉 Thank you for re-posting your GR8 work here…I’m sure people will see what süüüpppeeerrr work you are all doing with Ms. Lees 😉

      Take care…and have a GR8 Summer Break!


  5. hi =)

    my name is grace and I’m from Ms. Lees’ eng 10 class

    I wrote a response to your blog post =) here’s the link

    • Thx Grace – will take a closer look and come right back to you 😉

      Take care,


      • Hi Tony,

        I am Ruvini from Ms. Lees English 10 class. I would like to respond to a question you posed as a comment on my blog post- what type of teachers do kids learn from?

        I think students most appreciate teachers who follow their own rules and teachings- ie. if they are strict on lates, they should be sure to follow through and do their own part as well. This way, students will understand the value of the teachings and not feel cheated on.

      • Ruvini,

        So true – “clarity” and “walking-the-talk” are two of the basic human needs…all of us have 😉

        TY for coming back to us sooooooooooo quickly 😉


    • Hi Grace,

      Got you a reply…and some “homework” 😉

      Once a TEACHer…always a TEACHer – LOL 😉

      TY again…


  6. Tony Gurr’s blog post was somewhat confusing, even after reading it several times. After the first few pictures, I was lost. I had to re-read the post again, at least 2 or 3 times. The style of his blog captured my attention even though some of the text seemed a bit off topic, but the pictures had strong meaning behind them.

    I’m scrolling through the blog reading the post from the very beginning to the end, but i stopped at this picture…

    I was laughing at this picture for quite a while. I mean look at each of the students in the class, and it totally relates to our classrooms today. You have students eating lunch, talking so much during class, daydreaming, sleeping, fooling around, and the list goes on. Every class room is unique and different, but it seems like there is a lack of motivation and management in the classroom, but it should be about classroom leadership. I agree with Tony that classroom leadership is better than classroom management. Anyone can manage a class, but very few can take leadership in a class. By watching other students take action in classrooms this could make other students motivated to try as well. We need leadership in our classrooms, not for our teachers to motivate us, but our peers and our friends. Depending on certain teachers, there’s minimal motivation given to students. For example, someone is failing math class and gives up on studying for the provincial; this shows that the teacher lacks motivations for their students and it seems like teachers just want to teach the course and move on. Isn’t the main point of motivation to make sure students are engaging the in course.

    We need great teachers to be like this…

    Students need to try new things and experience real-world examples and opportunities not just worksheets and tests, otherwise, how are students going to be motivated and how are they going to learn? If our society lacks motivation than how can we encourage the next generations to do the same if our teachers aren’t pushing students and little harder and faster to success. With more choices and voices our classrooms can be a bit more welcoming. Learning should be about doing things that bring joy to yourself and others around you.

    I agree with Tony’s post on motivation, sometimes we need to change the way things are being taught. Just by giving students a bit more freedom for choices when it comes to work in class, such as assignments and tests students will be a lot more content. Students have to be the first to motivate themselves, and teachers need to allow these changes of students taking over their learning, and to make learning engaging for both students and teachers.

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