Make it Diverse


“Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.”  D. Pink

Increase student autonomy simply by altering homework expectations.  Students are different.  Homework should be too.  I recently conducted an observation inside my ESL classroom where students were provided with the opportunity to select from multiple homework options.  Enthusiasm heightened as pupils selected from appropriate tasks.

While you’ll want to provide the scaffold, allow your students liberty to select subjects of personal interest delivered through creative vehicles.  Don’t be afraid to switch things up as borders are pushed and new horizons pursued.

Perhaps you could introduce a bingo template with each square suggesting a variation on completing homework.  From the template, students could select a personally relevant task.  Or encourage students to present through varying vehicles including video, prezi, drama, song, and text.  Model for students how to collect data from diverse sources.  Expect students to engage in solo, pair, and group work.  Compile student work in portfolios, track progress, and enjoy watching your students flourish!

How are you already providing opportunity for diversified homework?  I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

Have the Student Teach


“While we teach, we learn.” Seneca

While preparing to teach, teachers learn.  While teaching, teachers learn.  While reflecting upon teaching, teachers learn.  So why should we not expect the same of our students?  Rather than offering content on a silver platter, turn tables and expect your students to prepare and deliver content.  Allow them the joy of learning by teaching.

As the instructor, it is your honor to side-step platforms and welcome your learner on center stage.

In the article, Students learn more if they’ll need to teach others, Everding shares the results of a study in which evidence pointed towards students learning more when they felt expected to teach others.  Simply by altering expectations from that of taking a test to actually teaching content, students benefited from enhanced memory of main points.  In addition the study concluded that, “expecting to teach appears to encourage effective learning strategies such as seeking out key points and organizing information into a coherent structure…it is noteworthy, then, that when students instead expect to be tested, they underutilize these strategies” (Nestojko, Bui, Kornell, & Bjork, 2014).

To start your students teaching, check out 10 Minute Leadership Lessons in which over a dozen ideas are presented where your students have the opportunity to lead inside the classroom.

Or select a student to present review material, have students research and teach content to the remaining class through videos and creative presentations, or engage your whole class in preparing a lesson for another body of learners.  Call on student assistants, expect student involvement, and don’t just teach to the test.

Perhaps you are already engaging your students as teachers.  In the comments below, I’d love to hear what you’re finding to be most successful in pushing your students to teach!

Nestojko, J. F., Bui, D. C., Kornell, N., & Bjork, E. L. (2014). Expecting to teach enhances learning and organization of knowledge in free recall of text passages. Memory & Cognition, 42(7), 1038-1048. doi:10.3758/s13421-014-0416-z

Positive Role Models

Inspire word cloud

“People never improve unless they look to some standard or example higher and better than themselves.” Tyron Edwards

A positive role model is a person of influence.  One by which students are inspired and encouraged to strive for greatness.  An example to learn from, admire, and aspire to be like.  A reservoir from which guidance and advice are gained (Teachers as Role Models, n.d.).

Inside Leadership Role Models, Seaton posits that one’s most influential role models are “local”, in that they present the people you encounter and interact with most frequently.  Seaton further outlines a role model as one who teaches not only through word but through unspoken and observable behaviors.

Role models allow students the advantage to build upon skills and attributes of others as they learn and develop themselves in light of another’s example.  Of course you’ll want to be careful who your students pattern after as they select individuals worthy of attention.  When selecting role models for your learners, consider what it is that makes leaders exceptional.  What type of influence do they portray?  Of course, be sure to observe not only what to do, but also allow your students exposure into what NOT to do.  Mistakes are inevitable.  They’ll be made be everyone.  So encourage your students to minimize their mistakes by learning from the errors of others (Eikenberry, 2009).

Introduce positive role models into your classroom by way of exploring stories of leaders.  First, have your students read examples in which specific qualities are exemplified.  From the reading, explore in conversation specific characteristics while drawing connections to your student’s individual lives.

Explore stories around men of valor and influence – individuals who lived and died well.  Journey through the lives of people such as Winston Churchill, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther King, and Abraham Lincoln.  Raise the bar of expectation for your students as you expose them to a world of greatness.

Eikenberry, K. (2009). The importance of learning from role models. Retrieved 2016, from
Teachers as role models. (n.d.). Retrieved 2016, from

Intrinsic Motivation


 “You can motivate by fear, and you can motivate by reward.  But both those methods are only temporary.  The only lasting thing is self-motivation.”           Rice  

It’ll take grit and determination, however, you’ll love the results of building motivation within each of your students.  Deduct motivation and you’re left with learners refusing to participate and retain information.  Trigger motivation and your students transform into learners excited to learn and participate.  Enjoyment for both you and your pupil is bound to increase.

In Cultivating Student Leadership, Ferlazzo shares how results from the Harvard Education Letter provide evidence for intrinsic motivation to be a key childhood characteristic among adults who become leaders.  Intrinsic motivation has the beautiful ability of inspiring persons from within.  Rewards are felt internally as leaders develop and behaviors flourish.

So how do we create such motivation?

Fostering intrinsic motivation may be as simple as building relationships with students to better learn their self-interests, hopes, and dreams, or simply being more prepared to explicitly form connections between students and lesson.  You could also offer praise for effort and action above that of intelligence (Ferlazzo, 2012).  Rather than teach mere content, teach students how to think.  Help your students discover what they can use or do to motivate themselves (Strauss, 2011).  You, the teacher, may be in their lives for but a short season.  Prepare them with tools to succeed long after your absence.

By way of grids, blocks, and an easy to read infographic, MacMeekin delivers 27 ideas to encourage intrinsic motivation in your students.


Or step away from the classroom for a bit as Dan Pink explores the puzzle of motivation from a business perspective.  After presenting studies where higher incentives result in worse performance, Pink sets forth autonomy, mastery, and purpose as tools for nurturing intrinsic motivation.


Ferlazzo, L. (2012). Cultivating student leadership. Retrieved 2016, from

Strauss, V. (2011). Helping students motivate themselves. Retrieved 2016, from