Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Changing the Pictures of the Classroom in Students’ Heads by John Nail

These are my notes from John Nail’s presentation, “Necessary Accountability for Individual Learning” on February 20, 2012, at a Yukon Public Schools professional development day. John is on the school board of Yukon Public Schools and is a home developer in Yukon. MY THOUGHTS AND COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. John is publishing a book in summer 2012 with Tate Publishing.

Taught construction in the 2 year program at Canadian Valley Technology Center.

“How to get your students to do what they don’t want to do”
– some teachers today said 75% of their students don’t want to work

A self-directed learner
– has intrinsic motivation
– able to navigate their learning tasks independently

Goal Setting to help our students become intrinsically motivated and self-directed

Human engineering principles to help kids become self-directed
– teaching students construction at the tech center, I had a lot of tough kids who had dropped out or been kicked out of other programs
– I taught masonry: how to lay brick
– It was a living nightmare for me until I learned some of this human engineering principles

I guarantee you this goal sheet in front of you will produce a self-directed learner

Goal Setting Sheet from John Nail

Story of Wilma Rudolph, contracted polio as a child
– was home schooled initially as a child
– vowed she would walk
– won 3 gold medals at the Rome Olympics

What are external things we do / incentives we provide to try and help students work harder
– grades
– call parents
– suspension
– others

Not all those external things work for unmotivated students, for motivated students these may work

A few years ago a person watching me present this at Francis Tuttle Technolo

“I believe all students are at risk for not achieving their full potential”

Have you heard of Zig Ziglar”
– He says, “What the mind pictures, the body carries out”
– the challenge is changing that picture

What are pictures that some of your students bring into your class now?
– texting to friends
– talking with friends
– sleeping

We need to help students erase those pictures and replace them with something else
– key is erasing that picture and creating a new picture

What does our new picture look like?
– students listening
– bringing what they need to class

I have a finite amount of emotional energy to give to my students, so I want to set them up to utilize the things I have to offer them

This goal sheet

Book “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz
– paper and pencil starts the mind in motion
– when I start writing things down, things start to click
– when we write something down, we can’t think of something else except what we are writing
– “managed motion creates the proper emotion”

I have my students fill out the goal sheet at the start of the day
– I would have students write down their goal for that day the first moment they came into my classroom for the day

Benefits of writing down our goals
– focuses thinking
– we see pictures and images instead of words and phrases (this is also from David Schwartz)

it’s a fact that this will replace students’ pictures
– beautiful sermons about the importance of learning won’t change the picture in students’ heads….
– students must change this picture for themselves, but students must do this for themselves
– many of my students didn’t have very good writing skills either

So now, I would never walk into a classroom without that goal sheet

Your goal in some cases can become their goal through this process
– this goal sheet asks students to do some serious thinking: identifying obstacles, making a plan, self-reflection, etc.

Learning IS self-reflection

Writing it out creates the motivation we need, and it can create desire to do something
– it also creates ownership
– if you own something you embrace it differently

When students in my class wouldn’t follow my instructions and do a process correctly (and claimed they had followed my instructions fully) I bought a camcorder
– we would record video of a student doing a process
– then I would ask a student to write down the steps
– then they would review their video and self-evaluate


True learning is self reflection, and self-evaluation plays a key role in that

How can a leader provide the proper atmosphere

“The primary challenge of coaching in the NFL can be boiled down to a 1 sentence description: “Getting people to do what they don’t want to do in order to active what they want to achieve is a pretty good description of any kind of leadership.”

Many students simply don’t know how or have never been taught how to motivate themselves

Frederick Herzberg defined motivation as movement; “motivation is what happens when people charge their own batteries”

When I was trying to charge my students’ batteries as a teacher, that didn’t work very well for me

My goal is to have self-motivated, self-directed learners

Let’s go back to students not bringing the right tool to class: the pencil

Helen Keller: “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

Take a right turn to Success
– Choices —> Crossroads
– door #1: Circle of the Unknown (bad attitude, inappropriate behavior, incomplete knowledge, no desire, lack of skill) – I originally called this “The Loser’s Circle” but others
– door #2: Winner’s Circle: Skill, Desire, Behavior, Attitude, Knowledge

It all boils down to CHOICES
– I found a book by Shad Helmstetter, PhD, called “Life Choices: Manage Your Choices, Manage Your Life

“The self-talk you create helps manage the choices you make”

How does this change my behavior as a student when I say to myself:
– I’m a poor student
– I’m a good student
– I’m a great student

pyramid is: Choices, Programs, Self-Talk

What I say to myself determine how I’m programmed and how I talk to myself

I taught my students to say out loud: “I always bring a pencil to class.”
– I had students not bringing pencils to class, talking when I was talking, coming late…

I had a turning point when students set off a stink bomb in my class when a high powered developer was coming to my class as a guest speaker

Book recc: “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself” by Shad Helmstetter
– you say these phrases in the present tense, as if you possess these skills TODAY
– when students write things down and say them out loud, it works to reprogram their thinking

Some people say up to 75% of what we say to ourselves is negative
– course material we’re presenting to kids is new and requires our brains to strain
– we forget learning something new is tough
– we’ve got to help them in a mechanical way
– AND give kids some BELIEF

So now YOU are going to make a choice today
– 75% of your kids are not motivated
– your choice is whether you are going to implement these ideas today
– just like your students that make plenty of choices, you will make choices

I challenge you to use the goal setting method with your students now
– I know how effective this is in the classroom because I lived this for 10 years

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3 responses to “Changing the Pictures of the Classroom in Students’ Heads by John Nail”

  1. L Renton Avatar

    Wow!  This is powerful stuff!  What I love about beginning with the goal sheet is that it truly DOES personalize for the learner.  It puts them automatically into the driver’s seat with their engagement and learning.  It encourages accountability for students and ownership, thus greater motivation to succeed.  I love the quote by Zig, 
    “What the mind pictures, the body carries out”!  I will definitely use the words of wisdom shared within this post.  Thank you for sharing!  Laurie  🙂

  2. Harry Che Avatar

    setting and getting goals, you may want to check out a goal setting app
    called GoalsOnTrack, a
    very nicely built web app designed for tracking goals and todo lists, and
    supports time tracking too. It’s clear, focused, easy to navigate.

  3. Garreth Trawick Avatar
    Garreth Trawick

    Great article! I am a student at the University of South Alabama and I am taking a class called EDM310. It is a class that is revealing a lot to me about the advancements of technology in education. Part of my assignment brought me to the Moving at the Speed of Creativity blog. The idea of a goal sheet was very creative in how the student’s own personal goals engage them directly with their learning. It was great how the goal sheet gets the student to think or create their own picture and become motivated by self-reflection creating ownership to their goals. This article has really given some good insight on how to help students become engaged and motivated to learn. Thanks for the post.