My TieGrad Motivation

This weeks topic is MOTIVATION or lack there of.

I am supposed to answer why and how I stay motivated to be a lifelong learner, specifically as it pertains to this program I am currently in. I suppose I should start with the things that will get me bonus marks which consists of a little must see video by RSA. It encompasses all the reasons I am doing this program.

This video looks at a number of motivators that drive us namely Money, Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose and is rooted in the research of Edward L. Deci. There is also a very good book by Daniel Pink called Drive – The Surprising Truth About What Motivates us.

I will tell your now that yes one of the reasons I am doing this program is so I can get paid more. I know… greedy no good teachers shouldn’t get paid anything! They should be forced to work for nothing and live in jail like cells, only to be let out for the school day then back in when their work day is done. (how can you tell it is contract negotiation time again?)

But in line with all the “right motivators”, the other reason I am doing this is that I want to become more autonomous in the work I do. In the public school system the only way you can become more autonomous is to do something no one else is doing. As the vice of scrutiny continues to clamp down on teachers and what they do in the classroom, professional autonomy is on the decline. It is my hope that by doing something that most people are not doing and has yet to have a defined role within the school system, I will be afforded more autonomy in my career going forward.

The mastery piece of my motivation is for the most part, well under way. I know stuff about educational technology that most teachers don’t and as a result, I get asked to do stuff for others on a fairly regular basis. The problem is, that I don’t have that piece of paper that says I am a master of this area of expertise. Yes I get a lot of attention and work because of what I know but I would like to further this knowledge and formalize my “mastery”

The purpose piece is easy. I see a purpose in what I do with technology. I do not view myself as a particularly good classroom teacher. To be quite frank, on some days I feel like I am a fish out of water but when I am working with technology and helping others use it constructively, I am comfortable. It is something I believe I do well and so my purpose is to get myself into a position where I can help others effectively use technology as a teaching tool.

The final motivator I will discuss is the one which is driving me to complete this post as quickly as possible. I have a flight to Maui I need to catch and if I don’t finish this post… I am going anyhow.


Gonna put the world away for a minute 
Pretend I don’t live in it 
Sunshine gonna wash my blues away 

Knee Deep – Zac Brown Band





  1. Jake Main

    If I didn’t know any better Keith, I would swear you sucking thoughts directly out of my mind and masterfully putting them together into your succinctly spectacular post.

    I’m happy to see you write that part of your motivation is money. It is for me as well. Why would I want to invest over 2 years of my evenings and weekends and shell out tens of thousands of dollars, if there wasn’t any financial reward at the end? Of course we become teacher to help others and for the gratification of knowing we can make a difference, but why is it so taboo to suggest that we should be paid any more for our services and diligence? The plumber who comes to my house at 11pm on a Sunday doesn’t apologize for charging me extra to pull the toy truck from out of my toilet? We don’t bat an eyelash, because we know he is providing his expertise to help us out. But I digress, the point I was trying to make is that being paid adequately for what we do can often lead to better ideas, processes and products.

    Your RSA Animate Dan Pink video was bang on! (I wasn’t planning on watching it, but ended up viewing it twice.) He speaks to the fact that monetary rewards work well on mechanical tasks, but that they do the opposite for challenges that require deep and meaningful thought and innovation. Pink also went on to say

    “The best use of money as a motivator is to pay people enough to take the issue of money off the table. Pay people enough so that they aren’t thinking about the money, and they are thinking about the work.”

    There were so many other completely relevant points in the video, suffice it to say, I know which book I will be taking along with me to read on my Spring Break vacation next.

    Like I said, it really did feel like you were Vulcan Mind Melding me or channeling my thoughts and feelings about this process when you wrote your blog, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that like you, my biggest motivator is to be autonomous and doing things differently than others. I couldn’t have said it better myself, so I will quote you in that

    “It is my hope that by doing something that most people are not doing and has yet to have a defined role within the school system, I will be afforded more autonomy in my career going forward.”

    Thanks for the awesome post, the link to the RSA Animate video, the heads up on Dan Pink and for keeping it real.

    Have a great time in Maui, and remember when you are swimming with the sea turtles…Jelly Fish are not our friends!


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