Motivation Cluster

This includes achievement, drive, commitment, initiative, and optimism. [Author's Note: I would also suggest that it is about being “in mission” or principle driven. It is about being connected to something greater than ourselves, and having a sense of interconnectedness to God or a higher power.]

Vignette 10.3 describes how an educator is struggling with objectifying what is motivation and then finally figures out a way to change the approach.

Teacher: We are going to use Cooper’s (1997) EQ formula for identifying what your motivation level is for being in class today. This is called your motivational coefficient. So rank yourself from 1 to 10 on how you see yourself in each of the four domains below; 1 is very low, and 10 very high. Now fill in the scores:

Calmness (C)



Energy (E)



Tension (T)



Fatigue (F)



Now calculate this formula using the numbers you presented above. (C × E) – (T × F) = M

Your personal motivational coefficient is M = .

What do you think you need to do in order to increase your motivation?

Johnny, what would you need to do to increase your motivation for being here this morning?

Johnny: I would need to go back to bed for 2 more days to reduce my fatigue, take a Xanax to ease my tension, meditate instead of coming to class to stay calm, and drink a power drink after my meditation to bring my energy back. Then I think my motivational coefficient would be in great shape.

The class breaks into laughter as many see the response by Johnny to be more insightful than the question. The teacher sees it as one of the most disappointing days he has ever had and is ruminating on his failure as a teacher as he returns to his office. He is fortunate to have a Soul Circle (Palmer, 2004) in his university, and goes to the meeting. He tells his embarrassing story. One of the members of the group, after hearing the story, asks, “Are you able to look at your intent, and how you brought the class to partner (or not) in that intent? Second, are you able to look at your hidden intent and see if it is connected to one of these three classroom approaches: (1) Student centered: What do they want?; (2) Instructor centered: What did you want?; or (3) Learning centered: What are you asking them to learn? We are here to support you in working through this challenging day in any way you need that support.”

The next class with this same group: I want to let you know that during the last class, I thought there might be an easy way to look at our motivation using a formula I saw in a workshop. Johnny helped me understand that motivation in class is not as easy to address as using a formula that means different things to different people. Where the formula seems to hold up most often is in the work setting for doing a task. It has not been tested for any specific environment. The principle of core learning is, “What motivates students toward success in any academic activity.” If that is the theme, then let's work together to see what the possible answers are for you either individually and/or collectively. Does everyone understand how this might help us learn about student motivation in classrooms even if they are different?

The key to EI and motivation is to know what motivates you, and then be willing to learn what motivates those around you. The topic of motivation is much larger than can be addressed here, but could include maturational models for readiness, psychological models, charismatic and leadership models, and behavior punishment and reward models. What triggers your motivation, and is it more objective based or subjective based? That is something worth exploring for your personal EI knowledge. Let's next consider empathy in terms of EI and SEL.

Empathy Cluster

This includes understanding others, developing others, service orientation, leveraging diversity, and political awareness. [Author's Note: I would also add that empathy is being with another in need, connection on a feeling level, and being able to feel what another is feeling without being lost in the feeling.]

The concepts of empathy are directly related to one's ability to understand what is happening to another person. Within the care paradigm, it is about being present and available. Vignette 10.4 comes from my personal life when I was learning something I had no idea existed—that the patient was teaching me.

Vignette 10.4

I was a senior nursing student working at the University Hospital of Wisconsin in the kidney transplant unit. Tim was my patient, and he had experienced one transplant failure and was waiting for another chance to get one more kidney. He talked, and I listened as the hair on my arms raised and my fear set in. Tim said he was sick of dialysis, a difficult process where he was hooked up to a machine three times a week for most of a day in order to filter his blood, a function the kidneys normally perform. After dialysis he would return to his room and feel sick for at least another 8 hours. His diet was totally controlled, and he couldn't have fluids because he had no kidney to take out the water. Tim was 9 years old and telling me he wanted to die. “If the next kidney fails, if there is a next kidney, I don't want to live.” I sat with tears in my eyes as I do even now trying to write this story. How has he lived with so much pain in so short a time—in only 9 years? I sat and listened to a very young boy teach me about life and death. I didn't expect this. I thought I was there to help him adjust to all the medical manipulation he needed to live with this disease. No, not really! Tim became my teacher, and I went home and hugged my two daughters even more, knowing that we are not on this earth forever.

Empathy can be addressed in many ways, and going back to the workshop vignette presented earlier, it is possible to close the forgiveness exercise within this SEL domain. Vignette 10.5 demonstrates how this could play out in a faculty group.

Vignette 10.4

The group of faculty had just completed their assignment on writing a forgiveness letter as a part of the workshop. Most had written letters forgiving themselves for hanging on to what did not serve them any longer. They often spoke of removing the hook from their own flesh and giving it back to the person who gave this painful experience to them in the past. However, many were more concerned about not let- ting the hook stay in their flesh to fester and cause problems in other relationships. They wrote their letters, and we walked out to the parking lot with the letter in hand, forming a circle. No one spoke, no one read the letters; it was a quiet walk. A basin sat in the center of the circle. They were asked—“Are you ready to really let go of the things you wrote down? Are you ready to burn these letters and let the universe sup- port your personal healing? If you are, then I invite you to bring the letters forward as I start a fire in the bowl and burn them. Let the ash remind you that they have been rit- ually given away by you, and offer a prayer or positive thought for yourself as you let it go. You no longer need this in your life. Forgive yourself or forgive the other person who put the hook in you if possible, but burn this and let it leave you now. Let's start.” Each participant came forward one at a time to burn his or her letter, many with tears in their eyes, silent, and open to being healed by their own desire for forgiving.

Let's now examine how social skills factor into SEL and education.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >