Effective praise promotes intrinsic motivation
We are always reading various education, cognitive science and technology books . One book in particular caught our attention.
In Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, he asserts that the secret to high performance and satisfaction—at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to 1) direct our own lives, 2) to learn and create new things, and 3) to do better by ourselves and our world.
He identifies two types of behavior; Type I behavior results from intrinsic motivation while Type X behavior results from extrinsic motivation. Type I’s typically outperform Type X’s and are generally happier.
Praise can be offered in a way to promote Type I behavior in the classroom. Pink suggests:
- Praise effort and strategy not intelligence: Studies have shown that children who are praised for “being a hardworker” vs. “being smart” lead to mastery/growth and are more willing to take on new, difficult tasks.
- Make praise specific: Instead of bathing students in generalities, tell them specifically what they’ve done.
- Praise in private: Praise is feedback, not an award ceremony which is why it is often best to offer it one-one-one.
- Offer praise only when there’s a good reason for it: Kids can see through fake praise instantly. Be sincere or keep it quit. Kids regard overpraising as dishonest and unearned.
How do you use praise and what affects do you see in your kids?
Notedly Spotlight: Ellen Dorr
The Notedly Team with Ellen Dorr (right), 8th grade Language Arts teacher at Cascade Middle School in the Highline School District.
Last week, we met with Ellen Dorr, a teacher of nine years and currently teaching ~100 8th grade students at Cascade Middle School (Title I school with 85% of students on free-reduced lunch) in Language Arts. We discussed a wide range of topics from how she communicates to students outside of the classroom, students’ personal disconnect between work vs. school to the importance of anecdotal evidence.
One story in particular stuck out in our minds, especially because it pertains directly to the impact individualized positive feedback can have. Ellen phoned a student’s home one day after school. The conversation between that student and his mom went like this:
Mom (with a straight face): Your teacher called me today. Why would she be calling me?
Student (very defensive): I don’t know. I did well in class today, I swear!Mom (starting to smile): I know! That’s what she called to tell me.
In addition to the phone call home Ellen also shared the following with us:
“I wrote him a long post-it about what he’d done well that day and gave it to him at the end of class. I don’t know if he showed that post-it to his mom, but with Notedly, they both would have received that note and it would have been easier to create and deliver since I could have typed it up at the end of the day and quickly sent it to both.”
In this particular case, the student was relieved that the phone call home wasn’t one of those phone calls and he was more moved that his teacher recognized that he did something well and shared that with his mom.
The little time Ellen spent writing the note and calling home resulted in a big difference in behavior the next day in class; engagement and motivation was up.
The above is what our team likes to call a “Notedly Moment”. While often these are simple messages sent to students after school hours, the impact they have can be profound. Just think if there were a way to take ‘note’ of multiple students in a given day, and instead of making several phone calls home, you could send a message to the student and parent, give that encouragement, and watch your students increasingly become more engaged…. that is just what we aim to do! With help from amazing educators like Ellen, we hope to effectively change the way that teachers communicate, connect and engage students and parents beyond the school walls.
Text2Teach, now known as Notedly
After winning Startup Weekend Seattle EDU, Jamie and I have spent the last two months evolving our team, meeting with educators and refining the problem we are trying to solve. We re-branded from Text2Teach to Notedly to not limit ourselves to texts and as a play on words with taking note of students and ED(ucation).
We are excited to track our progress through this blog. Notedly is providing a safe messaging platform for teachers to connect to students, through their means, to provide individualized positive feedback. With so much of our current education system relying on standardized testing scores and GPAs, we are seeking to keep track of students strengths, areas of great effort, and individual aspects of who they are beyond grades and test scores. Keeping these students engaged, motivated and giving them the feeling that their teachers care is so important in these formative years, and we are developing an easy to use system to do just that!
To help propel us even more forward, we were accepted into the inaugural class of Startup Weekend Next, a multi-day bootcamp for 20+ individuals to gain more insights about the entrepreneurial process and to turn ideas into reality. Gabriel, Jamie and I are spending the next two weeks hacking, brainstorming, validating, networking, etc. with this program and we will be documenting the entire process!
Entrepreneurs in a round table discussions of our goals for the program and questions we want to answer by the end of the program. Did you know that the top three addictions in life are carbohydrates, heroine and a stable salary?
The evening began with introductions from Jennifer Cabala and Marc Nager from the Startup Weekend + SWNext team to set the context of the next two weeks. The program participants then introduced ourselves to each other and shared our goals for the program. The twenty or so participants ranged from individuals who have had successful startups and sold, currently working at a startup, came with a team and came looking for a coworker. We came into the program with a team and looking to propel Notedly forward but are definitely keeping an open mind on the program material.
“All companies are marketing companies.”
Bob Crimmins, TechStars mentor and founder of MoonTango, provided the first learning on idea generation. He shared where his idea for MoonTango came from. Originally, he had an idea to create the female version of ManPacks. After consulting with his wife and female friends, he learned that women don’t want regular mailed supplies of panties, bras, pantyhose, etc. (Jamie and I definitely agree on this one). However, women do need other things on a monthly basis… and MoonTango came into being!
Some nuggets of learning:
- There’s a distinction between a viable idea vs. viable business. As a startup, you need to figure out how do you cross the chasm in between.
- Take the problem + customer/idea and point it at a different market. This is how Bob started MoonTango.
- Going after bigger markets will allow for more mistakes, more forgiving. Going for something small has a smaller margin of error
- All companies are marketing companies. If you have the best product in the world without marketing, it will not be a success.
Questions for all startups to know the answers to:
- How big is your market?
- What is the lifetime value of a customer and cost of customer acquisition? (Good ratio is needed between the two)
- Why now? Are the trends your friends?
- Are you qualified to pursue your idea? Do you need to be?
Knowing your market inside and outside and being able to slice it up, down, sideways, etc. is an important factor to success and definitely needed to beat the statistic that most startups fail.