Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What do you run on?

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I threw on my running clothes, grumbling the whole time and hating that I signed up for a team marathon next weekend.  I'm responsible for about five miles and have worked up to about four.
For me running is a lot like writing. There are times when I really enjoy the "doing" of both, but more often than I'd care to admit I enjoy "having done" these things more than anything else. Sitting down to write and getting ready to run often have me scowling to myself. With writing, the reward is a hope that this time will be a time when all synapses fire in unison and send a cocktail of "creative rush" to my brain. With running, the reward is the hope that this time will be a time when my legs feel light and my mind feels bathed in feeling good. A good write makes me feel like a good run does, but it doesn't always happen. I have to have a lot of bad runs, a lot of bad writes, to have any good ones. I think this is why I scowl a lot when it's time to get started on either of them. 

A dear friend of mine says, "Motivation doesn't really exist." In a way she's right. If you really don't want to do something, lying around waiting for motivation isn't going to conjure it. When we think of motivation in our students we come up with rewards like stickers and special privileges.  I'm thinking a lot about what motivates me lately and that I simply feel better when I'm writing, when I'm exercising, when I'm eating well. etc.  How do you teach intrinsic motivation?  This is what puzzles me lately, because in the end it is the intrinsic motivators that make us put running clothes on in the dark of the morning.


  1. How to teach motivation? That's a great question...no answer for you. I guess it takes a lot of modeling.
    Sharing how you are motivated to work towards your race or that piece of writing. Sometimes it takes a hook to get you going, right?

  2. I'm not sure I have the answer to your question.

    I did hear Mary Ehrenworth at the TCRWP Writing Institute today and she spoke about work ethic (closely related to intrinsic motivation). Here's what I wrote down when she talked about instilling work ethic (specific to writing workshop) today:

    Sometimes we have to teach kids how to have a work ethic. Setting really high expectations, giving kids feedback about those expectations, teaches kids a good work ethic.

  3. I hope it can be taught. I definitely believe it can be learned, and maybe the seeds I plant along with other teachers in the form of sharing/modeling and setting expectations very high with feedback can culminate into a gradual realization that it is the hard work that matters. Some kids are born motivated, maybe the rest of the world can only learn when they're ready to. Thanks for the thoughts!

  4. Great question! What about when you are motivated for some things and not others? I think success has a lot to do with motivation. Even though you had those "bad" runs or writing times, you've had the high of the good ones that let you see yourself as a runner and a writer.

  5. I hit "return" too quickly! I think things can be hard for us but if we feel we are capable, it makes us want to keep trying!

    1. I agree. And this makes me think of that "struggling reader" label we give kids in our classrooms. This might be a de-motivator, and I hadn't thought of it until Donalyn Miller mentioned "Dormant Reader" as an alternative. I guess we need to make our students feel capable first. Maybe that is part of the secret. Thanks!