Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.
Over the past two years I’ve become fascinated by the concept of habit and routines — how people develop, change, and eventually unconsciously assimilate them into their daily lives. Lately I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin’s writing on motivation. She defines four different categories for how people respond to expectations:
Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations.
Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense.
Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves.
Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.
You can take Gretchen’s quiz at this link to figure out what category you are in. While it’s possible to be on the cusp of two different categories, most people I know who have read the work find they are solidly in one category. Once you know your category, it’s a lot easier to predict what obstacles will emerge when you try to change a habit or routine. This knowledge reframes how you talk to yourself. It’s not enough just be kind to yourself (although that is important). You need to respect who you are and what motivates you. You may be a rebel trying to motivate yourself like an obliger, which will never work out well.
For example, my sister Sue, who runs a business, is 100% rebel. To get motivated for a workout, she’ll say to herself, “Okay, I’ll push myself today, but just this ONCE.” On the other hand, I am a questioner through and through. My tendency to question everything can drive others crazy (it even makes me a little nuts some days). But I like having time to do the things I love to do, and if I’m asked to do something that doesn’t make sense, I think it’s a waste of time and won’t do it. Unlike Sue, I can motivate myself by remembering how efficient it is to spend 30 minutes daily on a workout as opposed to a few days or more in a hospital if my health deteriorates.
This is why many of the newer practices in workshops are so powerful. Turn-and-talks give questioners a chance to wonder freely. Deciding on personal goals (and having the freedom to change them regularly) gives rebels a chance to blaze their own path cheerfully. Surveys to respond to PD sessions give teachers time and space to evaluate in their own way, with a time frame that works for them. We’ve said for a long time that all readers and writers need choice to grow. What we’re realizing more forcefully lately is that some need choice more than others, especially if literacy is going to become part of daily habits and routines.
This week we look at stamina and independence. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
Free for All
[For sneak peeks at our upcoming features, quotes and extra links, follow Choice Literacy on Twitter: @ChoiceLiteracy or Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ChoiceLiteracy or Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/choiceliteracy/]
Cathy Mere shares what to look for and what to try next with young learners who are easily distracted and struggling to concentrate during independent reading:
Carly Ullmer finds herself wasting a lot of time because of interruptions during student conferences, so she makes building stamina in her middle school students a priority:
For Members Only
What’s the difference between a sense of calm purpose in writing workshops and an atmosphere fraught with tension? Tara Smith finds in her sixth-grade classroom it’s the structures in place (or missing) for student Independence:
Tara Barnes and Kate Mills have a confession to make: in the first weeks of school, many of their fourth-grade students didn’t write much at all in workshops. It was only after tackling the issue of writing stamina head-on that they saw rapid progress:
In this week’s video, Gigi McAllister shares a quick daily routine of asking students to celebrate books they have finished reading, before she introduces a new book to the class:
If children can choose just-right reading spots, they will have more stamina for reading. Heather Fisher explains how she works with first-grade teachers and students to build this skill:
In a bonus video, Heather Fisher works with first graders to teach them the strategy of taking “mini-breaks” to sustain reading during workshops: