Today after school, my sixth grader came home with exciting news; his teacher showed him how to melt styrofoam. This is every boy’s dream – to learn how to destroy! The only thing better would have been to have blown something up!
I was already sitting at the kitchen table grading papers when he burst into the house telling me we had to go to the store. My first reaction was to calm him down. And, I really did not want to go to a store. However, he was so excited to show his brothers. It was too hard to resist a positive interaction between him and his brothers. So, I agreed to take him to the store to buy this “magic liquid”; the one he could not remember its name.
We stopped at the drug store and he recognized the container, acetone. We also had to buy an aluminum pan to perform the experiment in and styrofoam cups. And, we had to buy some Little Debbie Snack Cakes. (They had nothing to with the experiment, but they were on sale.)
After arriving home, Andy gathered his brothers and about five neighbor children to show them how this magic “water” eats right through the cups. And, the pulp can be rolled into balls and left to dry. He even showed them how to spray paint the pulp. (Only half of the paint was on his hands.)
The excitement in all of the kids faces made me remember why I teach. As a high school teacher, I do not always get to see excitement. Teenagers are too cool for such public displays of emotion. However, I have seen kids excited to write on a certain topic or research for a certain project.
It is hard to motivate every student every day on every assignment. I am sure employees are not super-motivated each day either. However, building a relationship with the person, encouraging his or her interests or recognizing his or her strengths will help sustain motivation and increase productivity and creativity.