Tag Archive | Motivation

Get Motivated

Concept image of a signpost with motivational directions.

Get motivated – 6 things to do to make sure you get and remain motivated

So you have an essay to write, a research paper to prepare or whatever.  The trouble is you have the time and the resources but not the will to do it. You are putting it off, procrastinating.

Why and what can you do about it?

The first problem is there is tomorrow, or the next day to do it. Well that is what you tell yourself. Nothing feels urgent, there is plenty of time left to get it done so its gets left undone. It will get done later.


The second problem is that you forget about it. Well your conscious mind does but not the subconscious.  Since you set no specific timetable to start and finish by there is no urgency and your mind gets busy with the day to day stuff. It is only when you relax you remembered and then you feel tired so a) you panic or b) you decide to put off starting until later (there is that “later” again).


Young beautiful business woman panic


Pain and worry are both draining, they sap our energy and we feel drained and mentally tired and thinking becomes harder. Why am I telling you this? Well a task sitting in the subconscious is like pain and like worry, it drains us of energy.  Once you have a task to do it is taking up mental resources, its sitting there draining your energy. The longer you leave it the less energy you have to do it. The only way you get started in these situations is when the adrenalin kicks in and gives you that energy boost. So as soon as you panic you get the energy to make a start.  The problem we have here is that an adrenaline hit does nothing for our perceptive thinking. You are in “fight or flight” mode and not think and reflect mode.

Next to come are the excuses.

You need to balance the lack of progress in order to feel okay about not starting so you make excuses. Excuses include promises to yourself too. Excuses and promises mean nothing in terms of getting started or completing a task. They achieve nothing in themselves and often are not fulfilled. Enough said about excuses and promises, you are fooling no one, and that includes yourself!  Stop making excuses.

There is too much to do, you are too busy already. Sorry but this is an excuse in disguise and you are fooling no one but yourself.  You have enough time but you are using it unwisely. You are allowing small tasks and the tasks you enjoy doing to eat up your time. You need to get strict with yourself and plan better.

Leaving things to the last minute, or beyond if you consider the quality of your work, is not good for you. It is self-inflicted pain and anguish. A set of emotions that never result in a positive feeling once you have finished. Instead there is a combination of relief for getting it done and anger with yourself for not starting sooner and doing a better job. This is probably the main reason why you leave things until the last minute too. Let me explain.

Feeling good about something is a reward to yourself. Remember doing something well and how proud you felt. Remember the praise you got when you achieved something significant.  We like rewards and rewards spurs us on to try harder or to do well.  By leaving things to the last minute, by delaying starting, you are robbing yourself of the reward. Without a reward all you are left with are the negative emotions and an experience that does little to inspire you next time.

So that is why and how we put things off.

What can you do about it?


For a start, set your own deadline and do not go with the “hand in” or “hand over” date.  Take control of the situation and do not dance to somebody else’s tune. They have no idea what else you have to do, want to do or wish to do. They do not offer to organise your time and only to expect you to use your time to complete the task they set.

Next, and it’s the most important part, set out your rewards for when you complete the task for the date you have set yourself. If you can meditate on them, visualise them happening. Make them real in your mind, feel the emotions that go with getting things done not only in time but in plenty of time. The reward is a powerful motivator but it must be a realistic reward. No setting unrealistic rewards, they do not motivate you.

Get realistic about your use of time. If something is a two hour task then spend little more than the two hours on it. If you spend more than 2 hours you are taking time away from something else.  You risk running out of time and we know where that leads.

Then, and only then, when you have achieved the task take the time and make the effort to reward yourself.  When you are doing so take a moment to reflect on how you would feel and what position you would be in if you were still rushing to get things finished. Contrast those emotions with how you feel having achieved your task as you set out to do.  Embedding the positive emotions in your memory will help you become motivated next time.

So to sum up then:

  1. Allocate a realistic and appropriate amount of time to a task and stick to it.
  2. Set your own “complete by” date ahead of the hand in or hand over dates.
  3. Plan realistically and stick to it. Make no excuses.
  4. Establish you rewards for completing on time.
  5. Take a moment to visualise and feel the positive emotions associated with your rewards before you start.
  6. When you have completed on time reward yourself and take the time to embed the good feelings into memory. Rewards must be meaningful and achievable.


By the way if you are struggling with time management then here is a link to a series of articles that solve that problem too.

man holding back time


As a learner how important is self-belief and…

… what has it got to do with Learning Intelligence (LQ)?

diagram of LQ and SAAB

Those of you who follow this blog will know of my aim and passion for developing a global awareness of Learning Intelligence and how it can transform learning. Through my company, Advocating Creativity, workshops, keynote speeches and writing I aim to provide access to my ideas, insights, and strategies. The number of people showing an interest in LQ is growing[i]. There have been over 1300 views of the info-graphic defining LQ in the last 4 months. With nearly 10,000 views  of the blog since August 2013, (as of May 2016 this is now over 21,000)and with many comments, acknowledgements and questions being received, LQ is beginning to become part of the vocabulary of learning.

I am always looking for the science that sits behind the art of teaching and the desire to learn. At the end of August, as part of a comment I received about the article “Introducing Learning Intelligence”, ( http://wp.me/p2LphS-3p ), a link to a paper was provided. The title of the paper was “Human Agency in Social Cognitive Theory” and was by Albert Bandura, Stamford University and appeared in the American Psychologist in September of 1989[ii]. My thanks to D Sharrock, who provided the link, and suggested that the article would help support the evidence base for why LQ is such a powerful learning concept. If you have read something that you think will support , or even challenge,  the concept of LQ please let me know.

I have found Bandura’ work does indeed underpin several key aspects of LQ and there are conclusions in Bandura’s paper that I believe also find themselves echoed in the work of, among others,  Carol Dweck . These include certain LQ related attitudes, attributes and behaviours (see diagram above) that enable the learner to manage their learning environment and exercise resilience. This post seeks to show how Bandura’s work supports the concept of LQ.

lQ graphic 6

People Can Change

Bandura argues people can change and that the more confident they are, the better their problem solving capabilities and analytical thinking the better they perform. I feel certain that many sports coaches would agree, as they would with the suggestion that where individuals visualise success they achieve better performances. Motivation is very much linked to self-belief and problem solving is very much a part of LQ. Knowing you can change and by doing so learn to manage your learning environment to meet your learning needs is the belief that sits behind LQ.

Self-Belief and Resilience

Self-belief also plays a part in resilience, getting back on the horse after falling off. Passion and a strong belief in what you are doing enables people to overcome many of life’s many problems. “It takes a resilient sense of efficacy to override the numerous dissuading impediments to significant accomplishments” (Bandura). People who believe in their ability to cope and overcome challenges tend not to dwell on their inabilities but instead look for ways of moving forward. This is important when we consider our “Learning Map” (what we believe we can and cannot learn). The learning map landscape is often defined by school based experiences and what is said to us by significant people in our lives (parents and peers). More about the learning map in another post.

Learning Map

Being able to re-define our learning map has the benefit of a long term impact on our ability to learn. “After perceived coping efficacy is strengthened to the max level, coping with previously intimidating tasks no longer elicits differential psychobiological reactions” (Bandura). We become imbibed with the belief that we can cope with what were possibly considered too risky or too demanding situations. This makes it more likely we will develop adaptive strategies. LQ requires creative and adaptive strategies to overcome learning limitations imposed by the learning environment rather than being impeded by them. As Bandura warns “Depressive rumination not only impairs ability to initiate and sustain adaptive activities, but it further diminishes perceptions of personal efficacy.” Believing you can do nothing about your situation is debilitating. Developing and being aware of LQ gives you the ability to do something about your situation.


Developing LQ is not only the responsibility of the learner. The responsibility for developing an LQ friendly learning environment in which learners can experience learning challenges and find ways of overcoming them is one that rests with the teacher. This is supported when we recognise  “People tend to avoid activities and situations they believe exceed their coping capabilities, but they readily undertake challenging activities and select social environments they judge themselves capable of handling” (Bandura). This emphasises the role of the teacher as a coach and mentor in supporting LQ development. It is also important to note that all learners need to face challenges in their learning but to do so without support is debilitating. This is just as important for those who are recognised in school as Gifted and Talented as those who have recognised learning challenges. “Development of resilient self-efficacy requires some experience in mastering difficulties through perseverant effort.” (Bandura) By successfully overcoming learning challenges we develop a broader set of skills, more informed attitudes, are more confident in our aptitudes and more in control of our behaviours.


The implications for developing LQ go way beyond school and can follow us into work and careers. As a teacher, I have recognised that we are inclined to seek environments in which we feel comfortable and safe and are less likely to take on challenges if we are limited by our self-efficacy. “Any factor that influences choice behaviour can profoundly affect the direction of personal development… long after the decisional determinant has rendered its inaugurating effect” (Bandura). We can still face self-belief issues long after we felt uncomfortable, challenged, or inadequate in any learning situation unless it is resolved. How many people avoid subjects studied in school well into adult life? Developing LQ is a way of overcoming these negative emotions, limiting self-beliefs and improving learning at any stage of our lives. LQ is the tool we have been looking for to promote the idea of “lifelong learning.”


Motivation is also considered and describes our requirement to extending what we believe we can achieve or attain in order to undertake a new challenge, especially if we consider there is a risk. We can see this in the work of Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development[iii]  where we consider what we can do, what we can do with help and what we as yet cannot do. What we imagine we can achieve is very important in motivation and an attribute of LQ is imagination. “The ability to envision the likely outcomes of prospective actions is another way in which anticipatory mechanisms regulate human motivation and action.” (Bandura).

Importance of LQ

Finally the reason why it is so important we promote and develop our LQ in our learning journey and as teachers we create an LQ friendly learning environment is supported by Bandura’s conclusions.

Given the same environmental conditions, persons who have developed skills for accomplishing many options and are adept at regulating their own motivation and behaviour are more successful in their pursuits than those who have limited means of personal agency.” (Bandura)

If you would like to be kept up to date with LQ and how to both promote and develop it then follow this blog. If you would like a more detailed introduction to both LQ and learn about practical school and classroom based approaches to developing LQ then contact me for an initial discussion at kevin@ace-d.co.uk.

Advocating Creativity 2014

[i] https://magic.piktochart.com/output/2297869-learning-intelligence)

[ii] http://meagherlab.tamu.edu/M-Meagher/Health%20360/Psyc%20360%20articles/Psyc%20360%20Ch%203/self-efficacy.pdf

[iii] http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/social-development.html

The School Staffroom



The value of the staffroom in schools (FREE CPD!)

There may be two polarised views about the staffroom in schools. On the one hand a place for gossip and rumour and possibly dissent to thrive and on the other hand a rich source of informal professional development, somewhere to unwind, and a communication centre. Of course it can be many things to many people but where does the balance sit in your school?

[There is now a shorter version of this post available on TeacherToolkit website. The link is https://t.co/6f2aHXvmBH ]

I was once told by a wise bursar that you can tell a lot about a school by the staff toilets. I think the same is true of the staffroom. In my experience you can make an initial guess at what the staffroom is to a school and what it provides by seeing who is there are key times of the day. If it is like the Mary Celeste for most of the day and you only find people there at time required by SLT and certainly not after the bell has gone at the end of the day you may decide that the staffroom is a waste of space. On the other hand if as soon as you open the door to the staffroom you are hit with a wall of chatter, people meeting and greeting each other and the smell of coffee you may regard it as one of the most important rooms in the school.

In my experience any school that abandons the staffroom does so at the risk of losing a great deal both in terms of staff cohesion and informal CPD. I know that in large schools travel to and from the staffroom may take some time and with short breaks and almost none existent lunch periods it is much easier for staff to ‘stay local’ as it were. Easier is not always better though and I would urge that arrangements are made to make the opportunity available for staff to get together in the staffroom once a day or at least a couple of times a week.  Of course with social media, texting and e-mails available people may argue the staffroom has had its day but where else can you inadvertently pick up what can be valuable information about what is going on, student issues and offer your help or advice to those staff facing challenges that may be new to them.

Staffroom dynamics have always been an interesting reflection of the attitudes and values of a school too. At one school I worked in each member of staff had ‘their seat’, and subjects ‘their corner’ of the staff room. Crossing these invisible boundaries was unheard of and on one occasion where I ‘mixed it up’ it caused some concern for a little while. I some schools it was seen as a sanctuary away from the leadership of the school and went strangely quiet if they entered and in others a collegiate melting pot where position or rank was regarded only after experience and value of advice or comment.

Fun, the lubricant of the teaching and learning engine.

One great advantage the staffroom has is that it can allow people to let their hair down a little and have some fun. Here are two examples from my own hands of using the staffroom for a little fun.

Training day


Imagine the summer term and the end of the academic year. Students started their holiday on Wednesday and teachers returned on Thursday for two days of training. Imagine how staff must have felt coming back to school on that first training day. L

Now imagine turning up to the staffroom to find a beach scene with palm plants (Blue Peter style), paddling pool, a crazy golf course, tunes of the Beach Boys playing and a certain member of staff in ‘wild’ Bermuda shorts and shirt with a drink in hand sitting under an umbrella. Well the look on staff faces as they came up to the staffroom was priceless, from a frown into a smile in an instant. The mood was set for the two days. I really should have told somebody though because the Head was a little nervous about what our guests would think when they saw it. We need not have worried, one rolled up his trousers and went paddling, and the other had a game of golf. Both said what a great way to inject a little fun and admitted they had been a little concerned about how staff would receive them with it being the end of busy term and staff tired.  Result J

Monthly Celebration

At a particularly stressful time for all during the opening of a new school with unfinished buildings and temporary accommodation resulting in a split site, the staffroom was a very important place. However on any given day there is always something to celebrate if you look hard enough (a ‘on this day’ search). For one day each month I found something to celebrate and turned this into a one lunch period celebration event. The event and its requirements need to be published ahead of time to give people time to plan and to have something to look forward to.

One example was the forming of the Bank of England 1694. With only a little money spent on cakes and a few photocopies little preparation was required.  The entry fee was by showing a pre decimal coin. This lead to some ingenuity by staff and forgeries were accepted!


So if you think your staffroom could play a much needed part in the life of your school perhaps you could start by celebrating something one lunch period each month and see how it goes.

If you want a few more ideas on how to make the most of the staffroom or want to share one of your own you can reach me at kevin@ace-d.co.uk

For more details about my LQ concept and any of my other ideas and strategies for school improvement, training, and teacher coaching then drop me an e-mail and I will contact you to arrange a time to discuss your needs.

Understanding Learning

IF YOU CAN’T REACH THEM YOU CAN’T TEACH THEM: Building effective learning relationships

I wanted the book to support teachers with the challenges they face throughout their career. The focus is on building effective learning relationships with their students, managing their time and remaining a learner throughout. Whilst teachers, schools, students and communities all differ I have found that there remains a core set of needs we all possess in order to engage in any learning activity (I include teaching as a learning activity). When these needs are not being met teachers face many challenges, not least of which is learner engagement, something that makes teaching ‘difficult’ and ‘demanding’. The book identifies and describe the core needs (PBCF) and shows how we can plan to meet them (in both our students and ourselves) in an effective and manageable way helping to improve teaching and learning and minimise challenge and stress. The book is a learning journal where teachers can reflect on their own practice as well as plan for interventions/changes that will improve their teaching and through PBCF build a dialogue with their colleagues to further their career as a successful teacher.

Getting your copy of IF YOU CAN’T REACH THEM YOU CAN’T TEACH THEM: Building effective learning relationships

Publisher Link: https://www.criticalpublishing.com/if-you-cant-reach-them-you-cant-teach-them

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/cant-reach-them-teach-relationships/dp/1913453138

Review by UKEdchat: https://ukedchat.com/2021/03/16/reach-teach-book/

%d bloggers like this: