It is strange what gets people motivated. I am fairly confident that most of the children in school could tell me, if I asked, what “good” behaviour looks like, what a sensible choice would be to make in a situation or what perhaps a better choice would have been after an event. They do intrinsically know, I understand that in the heat of the moment one or two forget this knowledge as some baser instinct kicks in.

Some children though make a deliberate decision and will inform me, “I’m not doing Russian (for example) today, it’s rubbish and I don’t want to!” And they don’t. They will abscond from the classroom and refuse to be moved from their chosen alternative place – unless you approach when they may decide that you would be better employed as a sheepdog or relay runner. I have long ago discovered that chasing children round tables, down corridors or across the field is not going to result with them in class doing their learning but will end up with me proving how unfit I am!

Sometimes these children can be motivated to go to their class by a reminder of what their reward chart is, sometimes the offer of a smelly sticker upon bringing me their completed learning will do the trick. I have a couple who have, in the past, chosen their sticker, put their names on the back and blu tacked it to my wall for later when they’ve had a good morning – this is fine by me if it results in happy teachers, happy children and successful learning with good behaviour. I know that there is an argument against the giving of stickers as children should do the work for the satisfaction of doing it and not for a reward but sometimes they need something to motivate them!

Some children do not seem to be motivated by any reward chart, catch me being good chart, praise, ticks on work, house points, phone calls home or anything positive. Some children seem only to respond to a negative. I will not make idle threats and so I don’t like saying that they will lose some break or lunchtime or that I will have to phone a parent but sometimes this seems to be the only thing that works. I find it sad and wonder what life at home must be like if negatives are the main motivating factor.

Personally I prefer positives and having been shopping, put it all away and finished reflecting upon my day I have now earned my small glass of wine – the reward I promised myself once I had finished. It was called self-motivation!


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