Balancing Motivation & Inspiration in the 21st Century Classroom


Jeff Sargent – Helicopter Mechanic & Missionary
Google Hangout from Haiti

Educator…Motivator…Counselor…Coach…Facilitator…Leader.  All of these words describe my desired journey on a daily basis as a professional educator in the 21st Century high school classroom.  Make no mistake, words definitely matter, and these are powerful words that bring great responsibility.  Spring is an extremely busy time of year for me, as we push toward our AP Human Geography test in my APHG classroom, our AP Government & Politics (U.S.) test in my APGov classroom and the beginning of our EHS varsity baseball season, for which I am a varsity baseball coach at EHS.  Add to this our upcoming state tournament for my EHS girls golf team (yes, I coach our girls golf program as well) and my responsibilities at home and this is a challenging, yet rewarding time of year for me. Balancing responsibilities becomes the biggest challenge, as well as making sure I take care of my students & athletes with quality instruction and an understanding approach to the challenges in their life as well.  This is the most important responsibility I believe that I have as a leader.  This is also the biggest challenge I see for the 21st Century students and athletes I teach & coach.

How do we balance our personal & professional life in a healthy manner?  How do we make sure we are taking care of our responsibilities and be productive without losing our ability to enjoy the experiences in our life?  I have found myself filling the role of counselor and having this discussion with many of my current students in the past couple of weeks, as it seems to becoming increasingly difficult for them to manage their “academic responsibilities” in lieu of their “personal responsibilities.”  In my AP Human Geography class we have taken on the added challenge of completing a We Service project that we have created, called We Nourish: Serving Enumclaw & Black Diamond, addressing food insecurity & hunger in our community.  This project has been rewarding and is teaching my freshmen students many valuable lessons (many of which they are not aware of just yet), but it has also increased their workload, adding to the list of “responsibilities” that they have.  At the core of my beliefs as a professional in education is that I am not just a facilitator of learning, but I am also a motivator for the incredible young men & women I interact with on a daily basis.  This brings with it it’s own set of challenges, for many of the young men & women that I interact with have a difficult time finding motivation to take care of their academic responsibilities.  This can be frustrating at times, but there are a variety of factors that create this roadblock.  My goal is to provide them with the inspiration to develop the motivation necessary to strive to reach their full potential.  To reach the potential that I know they are capable of achieving.  This is the goal, pure and simple!  The challenge is figuring out what are the means that will be most effective to help them achieve this goal.

Is it best to be understanding & a calm accepting influence?  Is it best to provide them with information & awareness?  Is it best to inspire them regarding their future & the difference they can make in the world?  Is it best to hold them accountable in a “tough love” approach?  I believe it is a combination of all of these approaches, but bottom line, it has to be sincere and it has to be about concern for who they are and their future.  If I can make the young people I have the privilege to teach understand that their future success, happiness & impact has everything to do with developing a concern, committing to that concern, living consistently with a balance between what they say and do, live with courage in all decisions they make in life and carry themselves in the highest character, then I will feel as if I have made an impact.  I want them to understand that their daily productivity, their daily interactions with others, how they carry themselves and their service toward those around them matters.  If I can do this, then I will have made an impact that I will be proud of!

Video Links: 
The Science of Productivity
Made in collaboration with Sparring Mind, the behavioral psychology blog. Read the full productivity post:

The Science of Motivation
What’s the best way to stay motivated?
8 More SIMPLE Motivation Tips:

Body Language Matters – Geno Auriemma on body language and the type of players he recruits