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In Response to Alfie Kohn’s Tweet

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What ed philo & tchg styles are likely in a schl whose walls feature motivational posters w/can-do slogans about effort & success?” Alfie Kohn

Alfie Kohn’s Friday morning tweet was on my mind as I headed down the hill yesterday to my school district – and 24 hours later, I’m still thinking about how I would answer his question.

I visit a lot of school sites, both in my day-time job and through a number of organizations I belong to. Most front offices and libraries have professionally done motivational posters. Some have student-done posters. I think the latter may be more reflective of a site’s educational philosophy than the former. I think the purchased posters reflect where sites would like to be; student-done posters reflect more the realities of the school day.

attendance5Take these three student samples, for instance, which were entered in a district-sponsored campaign to motivate students to get to school on time (click for an enlarged view).attendance6 Could it be the lack of motivation for students to get to school on time stems from being greeted with messages such as “Take out your textbooks”or “Detention – Be Quiet” or a major part of the school day being spent sitting (daydreaming, sleeping) in rows?

attendance8I recognize that change is hard and that all of us who are teaching in 2010 were born in the past century. But I am optimistic that change is happening, due in large part to how easy it now is to access mentor texts and teachers 24/7.

Cheryl Oaks, in a recent post to her Tech & Learning blog, What’s it like to be a students in today’s classrooms?, asks, “Would I be a different type of learner than I was 50 years ago?” She answers the question by providing some great online resources.

What if students started the day, for instance, with a message on the board something like “log on to the Newseum and …” or “team up and head into David Warlick’s sources for Raw Data and …“? Would the No Excuses posters featured above  reflect a different learning environment? I’m betting yes.

I’ll end this post with a great video by Kevin Honeycutt, one I plan to share with colleagues as we continue conversations on what 21st classrooms should/could look like – maybe even eliminating the need for motivational posters;-).

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