I have been obsessed with motivation for a LONG time.  I have often wondered why understanding motivation isn’t something that is taught in Teacher Education programs and basically the class that teaches every single person the most important things to make you a thinking and self sufficient human being!  I have my conspiracy theories on why this isn’t a more widely understood topic.  I started the following blog 3 years ago and have had it archived since it was written.  This morning while scrolling through Facebook, I came across an article discussing the novel idea of fostering intrinsic motivation in students and got extra giddy when I saw that the article referenced Daniel Pink and his work on motivation.  When I read the comments from educators who obviously thought that their OPINION about motivation was a viable counter argument to all of the research that has been done on the topic, I just couldn’t help but put my thoughts out there.  The following was written almost exactly 3 years ago and I stand by these words more than ever!

September 7, 2014:  There is a growing trend in our society, especially in the education world, of using external rewards to motivate people to do what they are supposed to.  Teachers have stock piled treasure chests, prize baskets, and the like, with rewards for students to do a myriad of things.  They get rewarded for coming to school on time, following rules, completing assignments, reading books, or participating in class.  We see parents bargaining with their children and promising outlandish rewards for doing what is expected of them in various areas of their life.

Using tangible rewards to motivate someone to do something that is expected of them is called extrinsic motivation.  The alternate to that would be intrinsic motivation.  When you do something because you enjoy it, it is the right thing to do, or because it is what is expected, without the promise of a payoff, you are exhibiting intrinsic motivation.

When we dangle a carrot in front of our students, the initial effect is that you have a higher percentage of participation.  We think,  “This is great!  I got everyone to do what I asked!”  The reward produced the desired outcome.  What’s the harm in that, right?  Thinking of all of the negative effects that extrinsic motivators can cause is enough to make my eyeballs pop out of my head!

When you give a reward for a task, you are basically saying that doing said task isn’t beneficial in it’s own right or assume that the person you are asking to complete the task couldn’t possibly see the benefit, so they should do it for a prize.  If you constantly reinforce external motivation, you are depleting any intrinsic motivation that the individual might have.  The effect of the reward lessens over time.  So eventually, you will be right back where you started, and will either have to up the ante or cut your losses.

Putting a price tag on expected behavior, often puts too much pressure on a child, and they crumble under the pressure.  I can’t tell you the number of times that I have seen parents make outlandish deals with their child to behave a certain way, and often times, the situation got worse instead of better.  We have to explain to children why the task is desirable and acknowledge progress made toward reaching that goal.  Expecting it to happen over night or bribing just isn’t realistic!

I am so thankful that I grew up in a time that teachers weren’t paying students to “learn” and in a home that couldn’t afford to offer big prizes for what was expected.  I had teachers who showed that they cared about me.  I had a mom who took me to the library so she could share her love of reading with me.  Was I a perfect student?  NOPE!!  On my report card, I had that little “self control” box checked EVERY quarter, EVERY year.

We have to respect our students enough to show them the importance of learning and stop undermining their intrinsic motivation.  We sit and complain about Millennials expecting something for nothing, but perhaps it is time we step back and look honestly at what got them to this point.  I am pretty sure that the adults who were responsible for raising them and educating them may be to blame for this mentality.  Our country is doomed to continue cranking out self-absorbed citizens who are far too willing to pull out the victim card when the going gets tough, if we don’t stop muddying the waters in the classroom.  Let’s try respecting our children enough to explain WHY learning is important and empower them to take ownership of their education.






Goal #2: Schedule

The brain craves structure, or so the story goes.  An ADHD brain NEEDS structure.  The catch here is that as an adult, it is up to the same ADHD brain to create the structure and there is the crux of the matter.  When you are so busy running around like a crazy person with their hair on fire, you may neglect this for some time until the minutiae in which you are living in becomes downright unbearable.  And that is when you have to pull the emergency brake and take it all the way down to the basics.

So for this goal, I am SERIOUSLY taking baby steps.  I WILL be successful because I am taking it down to the bare bones and building from the bottom up!

Steps for Success:

-I have written down my daily MUST DO Routines so that I don’t skip over something that causes me to spiral into a hot mess express in the mornings.

-I have created a daily schedule for home AND work including times for all of the things that are most important to me.

-I have scheduled time for technology, for reading (that was once a beautiful hobby that I enjoyed), AND BEDTIME!!

I definitely have much work to do once I have mastered these fundamentals to be on top of all of the things that I have going on in my life, so as I approach mastery, I will be adding more steps to take.  I know that I have only been doing this challenge for a few days, but I can already feel the difference in my brain.  I am definitely looking forward to this process, but since my bedtime is quickly approaching, I will have to sign off for now but look forward to sharing goal #3 with you tomorrow!


Fundamentals for 40: Battling Back from an Overworked Mess

Forty days from today, I will be hitting the big 4-0. And while I am thankful for every day that I am given on this Earth, I have come to the realization that I am not living life to the fullest and the things that matter most to me have taken a backseat to the demands of work, motherhood, and being completely overwhelmed by the minutiae of TOO MUCH STUFF! I have been running around for God only knows how long (I would venture to say years) in a constant state of crisis management, putting out one fire after the next. My pathetic attempts of preparation, planning, and execution have failed miserably and it has left me in a sad state of affairs. So when the going gets tough, I say keep it simple and focus on the fundamentals! Over the next 40 days I will be setting my goals and rebuilding my foundation from the ground up so that when the big day comes, I will be primed and ready to make the most of 40 and be able to take a moment to enjoy this life that I have been blessed with!   via Daily Prompt: Overworked

Relearning the Hard Way

This has been one of the most stressful and difficult years of my life.  I haven’t posted in a very long time as a result of being so completely overwhelmed.  I consider myself a fairly resilient person and have overcome many obstacles in my life. I accept that there are still many challenges ahead.  I see the value in challenges and their necessity in helping us to realize our purpose or as an avenue for self improvement.  I have found it extremely difficult to sort through the minutiae to understand exactly what my current situation is supposed to teach me.  So far, I have had a few little “aha” moments that I believe will carry me through to see the big picture when it is finally revealed to me.

One important thing I have learned this year is that I love being a teacher.  I will admit that there have been moments in the past that I have questioned my abilities as an educator or whether the negatives outweighed the positives. You can only hear people say things like “I could never do what you do.” or “I don’t know how you deal with all of that.” so many times before you start to question your own sanity!  I still believe in the educative process and that we have the power to change lives and improve society.  However, I think the system is extremely flawed and the perception of teachers in our society needs to shift away from thinking teachers are, single-handedly, the problem in education.  If the general public understood just how little autonomy teachers had, they might start to question why so many decisions and regulations have been put in place with seemingly little to do with what is in the best interest of children and stop spending so much time posting silly memes on Facebook about “that darn Common Core math!”  More often than not, the teacher is the person advocating for your child, spending countless hours trying to circumvent many of the obstacles that have been placed in the way of your child’s cognitive and emotional development, by local, state, and national agencies, who may or may not have any qualifications to do such.  With that being said, I feel driven to find a way to help teachers better serve their students.  We have to find a voice.  When and how I could do this has yet to be revealed.

Probably the most important thing I have learned this year, or perhaps, I have relearned this year would be about balance and taking care of myself.  Life is stressful for everyone these days but you cannot succumb to stress by completely sacrificing yourself.  I learned the hard way, during Thanksgiving break, just how detrimental sacrificing self care can be.  In the past, it was very rare that I would get completely sidelined by illness.  My immune system is usually pretty sturdy from exercising regularly, eating a fairly balanced diet, and enjoying time with friends and family.  However, my seemingly endless and fruitless attempts to “catch up” has only left me drained and sick since the school year began.  When I was diagnosed with Strep the day before Thanksgiving, I realized what needed to be done.  I had to get back to exercising, eating better, being social, and basically finding balance in my life.  I will never be able to see through all of the stress and minutiae, if I don’t take a little time to show myself that I deserve to be treated better.  I want my mind to be clear so that I can be receptive when the bigger picture is unveiled to me.  After all, the teacher in me knows how important physical activity is for optimal cognitive function.

With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season upon us, let us not lose sight of how important it is to take at least a few moments to take care of ourselves.  Your house and holiday plans may look like the most impressive board on Pinterest, but being sick in bed or biting off the heads of anyone who dares to come within a 50 yard radius of you, is sure to devastate the intended joy of this special time of year.

Taking the Fear Out of Change


Do you like change?  Does it scare you?  For many people, including myself, change can seem frightening.  I have learned that it’s all in how you deal with change that can either make it the greatest blessing or the most miserable thing ever.  We can’t reach our ultimate potential if we avoid change at all cost.  In education, we talk about creating disequilibrium, giving students new or different information and students work to regain their equilibrium by storing the new information or reshaping their pre-existing understanding to accommodate the information.  If we know that disequilibrium, or being out of our comfort zone, is necessary for growth to occur, then why does it seem so darn scary to us?

Is the fear of failure the true culprit?  We are all scared of failing at one thing or another and for different reasons. Maybe it goes back to society’s pressure to be “perfect.”  But, if we don’t buy into the notion of perfection, then are we opening the door to be more accepting of ourselves  and okay with making mistakes or failing at something for the sake of self growth?  After all, the Wright Brothers didn’t exactly get it right the first time, now did they?

Perhaps, it is the fear of success that scares us the most.  If we are successful and do indeed change, we can’t go back to our comfort zone.  We are uncomfortable with the idea of a new comfort zone.  Let’s use getting in shape as an example of this. Let’s pretend we have a friend who is about 100 pounds overweight and is currently inactive.  They wake up one day and decide that enough is enough and they want to live a healthier life.   They live on fast food, several sodas daily (whether regular or diet), and extremely large portions of food at every meal.   More often than not, we take the all or nothing approach or try to find the “quick fix”, either of which is almost assuredly a set-up for failure.  (I say we because I have been guilty of all of these things.) We resort to deprivation diets cutting out carbs, gluten, fat, or subsisting on cabbage soups, all of which are not only unhealthy, but unsustainable.  It has been scientifically proven, a gazillion times over, what is necessary to lose weight, but we think we are the exception to the rule or we just don’t want to wait that long to see results.  In order to lose weight you must expend more calories than you take in.  No one said you had to take in so few calories that you are actually causing metabolic damage, but we go there instead of proceeding cautiously into our weight loss mission.

No one needs to exist on 1200 calories a day and attempt to RUN 3 miles right out of the gate.  You don’t have to empty your cupboards and fridge of every single “junk” food item and fill them with organic kale and tempeh and eat plain tilapia out of Tupperware containers at every meal.  Quite honestly, if I had to eat tilapia out of Tupperware I would probably be the crabbiest person you have ever met! Instead pick ONE thing to change with your eating habits and find ONE way to become more active.  I didn’t say sign up for a marathon next month, I simply said become more active. Go for a WALK 3 times a week, even if it is for only 15 minutes, and work your way up from there.  Don’t start by setting a goal to lose 100 pounds because that is too overwhelming and people tend to beat themselves up if they don’t meet a goal quickly.  Make your first goal losing 5 pounds in the first month.  At the end of the month, reevaluate your progress and set a new goal for the following month.  The more gradual the changes are, the less painful they will be and the likelihood of success increases.  We don’t need to fear success.  We all are worthy of living a better life and showing ourselves respect.

My challenge, for anyone wishing to make a change in their life, is to make your (small, manageable) goals visual to yourself and share your intentions with others.  This increases the likelihood of success by serving as a source of accountability and support.  Feel free to share your goals here and we can work to support each other.  Okay, I’ll start…my goal is to drink more water, 64 ounces, a day and to lift weights 3 times a week for the next month.  I will track this on my kitchen calendar and will reevaluate my goals at the end of August.  Now it’s your turn!



The word perfect is an adjective that is defined as 1. having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be. 2. free from any flaw or defect in condition or quality; faultless. 3. precisely accurate, exact.  These days it seems like we are obsessed with perfection.  Finding the perfect career.  Buying the perfect house and car.  Finding the perfect spouse.  Being the perfect parent.  Having the perfect body, complexion, outfit, and accessories.  The list is never ending.  How do we know when we have reached perfection?  Is there a secret book out there that has the rules or guidelines for becoming perfect?  Is there some sort of standard unit of measurement?  More importantly, why are we so driven to achieve perfection?

There is nothing wrong with striving to become a better person.  We all have areas of our life that could stand some improvement whether it be working on our health or working for a promotion so we can earn more to pay for that fabulous home and car.  Having something to work toward is what keeps us going.  The goal is ever changing and can swing from one area of life to another.  The problem comes when we forget that we are human, therefore innately flawed, and allow our flaws to embarrass us or convince us we should try to imitate someone else.  Every person has something to offer.  No matter how peculiar their idiosyncrasies might be, having the ability to accept and love oneself for who they are at any given moment in time, is, in my opinion, as close to perfection as we can achieve here on Earth.

Why is it so difficult for so many of us to find that self acceptance?  What habits do we adults have that keep us from loving ourselves?  What are we modeling for our children in our daily lives that plant these seeds of doubt in our children.  I would venture to say that we are doing so unknowingly, not realizing the damage that we’re doing, not only to ourselves, but our children and the future of society.  My hope is that we can get to the bottom of it and educate ourselves so we can stop this cycle and end things like bullying, violence, self destructive behavior, and eating disorders, etc. while enjoying a happier life.