Student Motivation and Discipline

No matter how long you’ve been teaching, you simply cannot judge a student’s motivation with complete accuracy. Within a classroom, where all the children look as if they are doing the same thing, perhaps cooperating with the teacher and quietly doing their assignments, some will be operating on Level C and some will be operating on Level D (for details of the four Levels of Social Development, click here). While you may have few discipline challenges in such a classroom, you’ll never know for sure whether these children are internally or externally motivated.

A person’s motivation can only be accurately determined by that person himself/herself. That is why it’s important for teachers to ask questions that promote self-reflection in their students. With the Raise Responsibility System, you are not telling the student what you think of their actions and their motivations. Ideally, you are striving to have them think about what THEY think about their own actions and motivations.

It is this inner thinking and self-evaluation that lead to change and a higher level of behavior. As an aside, it is just as important to help students reflect on their behavior when they are acting at the higher levels as it is when they are operating on the lower levels.

As a teacher, your goal is to have all students operating at least on Level C so that the classroom provides a civil and productive learning environment for all. Some students will choose to set their sights higher (Level D), and of course this is what all teachers would like to occur, but it is not something over which any teacher has direct control. You cannot force anyone to operate at a higher level, but by implementing the Raise Responsibility System and introducing young people to the hierarchy, you can inspire them to WANT to act at the highest level, which is to be self-motivated.

The other important difference between Level C and D behavior lies in the results. Consciously choosing to operate on Level D automatically results in great feelings of self-satisfaction. Such feelings significantly improve self-esteem.

People operating on Level D develop a strong sense of self-esteem and personal power. Through the hierarchy you can teach students that when they consciously take charge of themselves (making responsible decisions, making appropriate choices), good feelings are a direct result. In fact, nothing feels better than to be in charge of yourself and know that you can depend upon yourself to do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do!

Another result of operating on the highest level is that your relationships with other people improve as well. People operating on Level D inspire others to act in a similar way. They gain the trust of others and find that others return their kind (respectful, friendly, etc.) actions. When you have inspired all your students to act at this level, discipline problems will be a thing of the past.