How to Motivate Staff the Democratic Way

How to Motivate Staff the Democratic Way


Research postulates that compared to the other many leadership styles, “democratic leadership” tends to be the most effective style when motivating subordinates to perform their duties.

Democratic leadership, also known as participative leadership or shared leadership, is a type of leadership that employees take a more “hands-on approach” in the decision-making process.

Under democratic leadership, leaders involve their employees by asking employees their opinions, usually via a survey or during a staff meeting.

Democratic Leaders consider feedback from employees by pondering similar questions such as follows:

“What support do you expect from me as your leader?”

“How may you help me carryout my vision for the company?”

“What suggestions do you have to help improve our organizational structure?”

Including employees in the decision-making process promotes a partnership between the leader and her employees, and by strengthening loyalty among all employees, by executing the leader’s vision, happiness is most likely to embrace all partners involved.

Democratic leaders promote novel ideas to maintain employees’ interests and concerns, and leaders want to know directly from their employees their personal preferences for job satisfaction, so that they may help provide their wishes.

According to seminal research, “recognition and appreciation” is number one in keeping staff satisfied. Recognition can be as simple as greeting a staff by her name or praising an employee in front of his peers.

Appreciation is often effective when it is shown by a personal “thank you” from the boss. An email or a note left in an employee’s box to mention the good deed. Or, giving a small gift—gas card, lunch card, or a day off from work: These “appreciation” ideas rank strongly by employees that “this kindness makes me happy.”

In return, Democratic Leadership allows employees to support their leader by looking out for her welfare, by speaking fairly about her during a leader’s evaluation.

Because of the partnership between staff and leader, employees own the responsibility to conduct their duties wisely in the manner agreed upon for the success of the company, and the leader owns the responsibility to ensure his employees’ success under his leadership.

In essence, employees desire HONESTY from their leaders. They wish to understand what is happening in the organization, and they want to be given the chance to participate in the problem-solving scheme.

Employees expect their leader to be FAIR and to hold everyone accountable to the same rules and standards.

Employees also desire TRUST from their leader, believing that their leader has their best interest at heart.

On the other hand, research posits that a leader expects employees to show him or her RESPECT. Acknowledging the leader by citing his title and name— “Mr. Cameron, thank you,” “Sir Rogers, I appreciate you,” or “How may I help you, Principal Taylor?”

By citing his or her respectful name or title through gladness and authority gives the leader a confirmation of the employee’s democratic partnership: It is known as respect.

Dependability is another expectation that a leader expects from his employees. When a person is hired as an employee, the leader relies on the employee to complete his job. The employee is expected to be timely and nearly perfect in implementing his duties. A leader can relax to focus on other important duties when he has one less problem—employee—to worry about.

While a myriad of leadership styles is used by different bosses, the one that most people prefer is the democratic style. Almost everybody wishes to be heard. Almost everybody wishes to be recognized. Almost everybody wishes to participate.

Democratic style leadership empowers employees and offers them the opportunity to share input with their boss. That partnership style is the democratic leadership way.


To enhance the democratic leadership style, below are suggestions for the leader and her staff.

  1. Always acknowledge the leader with kindness and respect, and always acknowledge employees with polite authority and decorum.
  2. Always keep the leader informed of potential problems, and always keep employees informed of potential work problems involving them.
  3. Always ask staff how you may help them succeed in your organization, and always ask the leader how you may help to support his vision.
  4. Always remain vigilant and visible around your employees, and always show up to work and conduct your duties as employee.
  5. Always share good news first, and then share bad news last, such as in a case of permanently closing a business, “I am so sorry, but you are the best, and I thank you.”

Cynthia Mathews, Ed.D. (2020)





What It Takes to be Curriculum and Instruction Director

What It Takes to be Curriculum and Instruction Director


“Hey, Doc! Just got back from my interview for the Curriculum’s position!”

“Wow, that’s fabulous, Jana. How did the interview go?”

“It went well. The Superintendent—Interviewer— wanted to know if I fully understood the duties of a curriculum director. Of course, I have no direct experience, yet I understand the duties.”

“Of course, you do. . . How did you convince him?”

“I simply told him what I know, I rambled, ‘The curriculum director releases instructional and supervisory programs to provide effective educational programs. . . They regulate and coordinate abilities and efforts of staff to ensure effective instruction (I paused, then continued) . . . curriculum directors work closely with the superintendent, executing instructional matters. I am sure the duties are immense, I continued’. . . He then asked me how well I work with people—‘“

“Did you ramble on?” (laugh)

“I did.  I wanted him to know my understanding of curriculum and my ability of working with other people without my having to spill specific details unless he asked, so I described that a curriculum director’s duties entail working with other school leaders in planning curriculum development and in evaluating appropriateness of curriculum programs. I said to him as director I would have to work closely with principals and their staff.” . . .

. . . The superintendent appeared most impressed with my understanding of formulating school policies and disaggregating data. I told him I had attended seminars on developing policies but that mostly, on my own, I have read about the development of school polices, and I told him that disaggregating data was a team effort to include instructional leaders and teachers and sometimes parents. I said to him “I enjoy working with other people in this capacity.”

“Will you travel?”

“He said I must travel sometimes yet mostly I would attend conferences. He mentioned I would use a school car () for traveling and that stipends would facilitate my expenses.”

“Of course.”

“And, Doc, here is the best part: (she whispers) if I am confirmed as the curriculum director, the pay may be as much as $130T a year!”

“You are worth it: You are highly qualified and likable in my opinion. You deserve it. . . Wow, look at you, Jana, manufacturing your dream. Responsibilities of curriculum and instruction are vast, delicate, and regulatory. . . I am proud of you for applying for such a responsible position.”

“I know. . . I truly want this job. . . I was raised by my spiritual Mom who told me to apply for jobs that I love and God would give me the desires of my heart. I love the duties of curriculum.”

“I believe you will be offered the job, and I believe you will be the perfect curriculum director.”

“Thank you Doc.. . Well, nice to chat with you. . . Back to work now.”

All the best, Jana—curriculum director. The title suits you. (Jana exists with a glow, and Doc muses with a smile)

Cynthia Mathews, Ed.D.

Points to remember about curriculum:

(1) You must plan for the improvement of curriculum and for instruction.

(2) You must observe and evaluate the quality of curriculum taught and instruction executed.

(3) You must use ready-made data and local research to make curriculum decision.

(4) You must organize and direct special In-service education projects.

(5) You must interpret curriculum to the public and to the School Board of Education.

(6) You must be a people person. 

Source (Journal Educational Leadership)





Self-Studying Learning Strategies

Self-Studying Learning Strategies


Of course, students need to study the periodic table, important events in history, and basic functions of math. Likewise, students need to understand how to acquire information without expecting teachers to instruct lessons on a continuous basis. Students may employ life-learning strategies to appreciate their independence for learning.

Three helpful learning strategies for students to employ for study-helpfulness are SQ3R, Bloom’s Taxonomy, and Universal Intellectual Standards:

Francis Robinson, in his papers “Effective Study” (1946), introduced SQ3R, a method that consists of survey, question, read, recite, and review. This study method may be applied to school, work, and life.

Encountering any lesson or event for the first time, the smartest thing students can do is to survey. . . They should look over lessons, events, duties, [persons] to fully understand the ideas that are evident. By surveying the lessons first, students will understand the overall impression of how lessons are structured and how lessons should be approached before proceeding.

The next idea is for students to ask questions of the lesson: What do I need to understand? Where may I find answers? How should I approach this lesson for mastery? Any question asked of a lesson will help students elicit a direction in which they should proceed.

Next—Read: students should Read straight through the text with interval breaks. If dealing with a person, students should listen to him or her speak. This method is similar to reading a book: Learners are actually listening while reading.

While aiming to understand a topic may not come readily for some students, students will nevertheless understand lessons better when they apply the next step of reciting, for reciting is the time to say out loud what is important to be annotated or to be highlighted. This method of reciting will save time for students. They do not need to read the same lesson again; they only need to recite the parts they annotated as significant.

Lastly, Review: Learners should review the importance that are outlined or highlighted. If necessary, they should reread the portions of the book or they should ask more in-depth questions about the topic in order to prompt their own attention for further understanding.

The method SQ3R has been a major help cited by many scholars that have tested it overtime; similarly, Bloom’s Taxonomy, an advanced method of learning, is equally effective.

In 1956, Benjamin Bloom and his associates published a framework for delineating educational goals, which include the lowest level, knowledge, the next lowest level, comprehension, and the average level application, and the critical level analysis, and the creative level synthesis, and, lastly, the highest-level evaluation.

Bloom’s Taxonomy allows students to repeat learning six different times and six different ways with each taxonomy presenting a higher level of thought. Because of the rigor of learning at high levels, students will recognize that Bloom’s method of learning helps facilitate the repeated rote method of 23 times for understanding concepts that researchers have long espoused. Bloom’s Taxonomy has facilitated student-learning for decades and is widely used in schools in America.

The other learning strategy, Universal Intellectual Standards, which include a learning process for students to master ‘excellence’ when they are completing projects, are ordered as clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, logic, significance, and fairness.

[To read in detail information about Universal Intellectual Standards, please Google its concept in order to appreciate its novelty and importance to education. The scope of this strategy is beyond the space-limit of this article.]

Students will be able to enhance their lives by employing the strategies of SQ3R, Bloom’s Taxonomy, and Universal Intellectual Standards. While many other useful learning strategies are available, the ones mentioned herein are test proven strategies that can be used independently. The strategies are study-effective and are helpful for both personal and professional purposes. 

Self-Studying of Leadership

A healthy mindset is for students to learn important lessons in life and to give their very best at nearly everything they aspire to accomplish in life. Thus, to be of a sound mind, students must maintain a healthy self-esteem and possess a good dose of self-confidence. One reason many students rarely fulfill their potential, according to science research, is that they lack fortitude about themselves. Luckily, self-esteem and self-confidence can be enhanced through leadership awareness.

A few helpful books to read and Cd’s to listen to may be obtained. Access any self-help book by, for examples, Myles Monroe, Michelle Obama, Stephen Covey, and many other notable, self-expert persons. Their inspiring words will help learners boost their self-awareness. Indeed, students will fare better in life if they take the driver’s seat in directing their studying habits. They may use self-study techniques as a road map to help facilitate their journey.


  1. Study to learn, not only to pass, ACT or SAT.
  2. Apply SQ3R to every part of life.
  3. Use Bloom’s Taxonomy to demonstrate high-levels of reasoning.
  4. Use Universal Intellectual Standards to measure excellence.
  5. Look to leadership to enhance self-esteem and confidence.

Cynthia Mathews, Ed. D (2020)

Why Supreme Court Reveals It’s Okay for Students to Grade Papers

Why Supreme Court Reveals It’s Okay for Students to Grade Papers

“Hi, Doc—Report cards go out next Wednesday!”

“Hi, Byron!  Yes, next Wednesday. Have you entered grades in the computer, yet?”

“No, I have not. . . Waiting to hear back from a parent who complained that my grades are not valid because I allow other students to grade students’ papers.”

“Hmmm, that truth is no reason to fret.  A teacher has the final say regarding students’ grades.”

“I wish I knew of a better way to appease both students and parents. Students cower when they do not receive A’s, and parents complain that my grading practices are “unfair.”’

“Well, be reminded that the Supreme Court has already ruled that students grading their peers’ papers is not a violation of Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA.)”

“Really,  I do not recall.”

“Yes! It was a case filed by a parent as a class action lawsuit against Owasso (Oklahoma) Independent School District, claiming “a teacher used a peer grading system. . .”

“Really? When did the ruling take place?”

“A few years ago, Byron . . . February. . . 2010? . . . You can Google the case and read about it, but, yes, after a battle all the way to the highest court in the land, the judge declared, “In concluding the opinion, grades on students’ papers would not be covered under FERPA at least until the teacher has collected them and recorded them in his or her grade book. We limit our holding to this narrow point.”

“Wow, incredible. Thanks for sharing this information. . .”

“Indeed, sometimes–perhaps often–students’ grades are reviewed by teachers for accuracy. The teacher may change the grade if peers did not grade fairly, or teacher may use his or her final assessment of the grades; thus, peers that graded the papers might not have seen the final grades, thus no real harm happened.”

“Yes! That makes sense. . . I always spot check the grades after my students grade papers.”

“However, I would caution not to allow students to grade other students’ papers on a regular basis. A more prudent method would be to allow students to grade their own papers. You as teacher would have to assess the validity of their grades, however, and perhaps micromanage the situation. This idea is feasible with few math problems, historical facts, or vocabulary. Yet, you, yourself, should grade students’ essays—or. . .”

“Yes! I totally agree.”

“How will you handle the complaint by the mom of your student?”

“I will ask her to meet with me for a conference, and I will explain my rationale for grading. . . I will respond understandably to the parent’s concern and will adjust her child’s grades on the basis of fairness . . . I have a better understanding now after talking with you about grading practices, Doc.”

“A compromise is this case is smart, Byron . . . Ah, question?? Do you ever use a grader chart or a Scantron or a techno method for grading?”

“No, I am a hands-on teacher and prefer hand-grading.”

“Well, I understand. Yet, for easy grading—multiple choice, facts, simple computation, for examples, try Scantron. Your computed grades will be accurate and students and parents will be able to see the grades and deal with the consequences of the grades privately.”

“. . . Another good idea, Doc. I understand that privacy is important. I know that some students and parents can be sensitive about grades . . . Thus, I will start using your recommended grading suggestions as well as rethink my grading practices . . . .”

“If you would like to read further about grading, here is a list of research-based strategies for grading. (Doc hands list to Byron.) I complied the list to keep in my grade book and in my computer notes to remind myself of best grading practices, and I apply them.”

“Okay. Surrreee!”

Here is the list:

(1) Be reasonable and clear about teacher-expectations for performance.

(2) Be fair about grading by keeping the student’s learning ability in mind.

(3) Develop valid assessments of learning and skills, minimizing error in test construction.

(4) Implement a rubric strategy that both teacher and students understand.

(5) Consider a no “F” policy: Adhere to grades A or or or D.

(6) Allow students to makeup assignments or retake quizzes if they ask.

(7) Discuss “test integrity” with students: Why is test important? How does studying for a test guarantee test-success?

(8) Teach strategies for making good grades.

(9) Involve parents when students earn below a grade B.

(10) When in doubt about grading, refer to the highest court of the land for validation.

“Thank you, Doc. These tips are very helpful. . . Let’s have lunch soon. My treat.”

“Sure! Perhaps a good time to have lunch will be next Wednesday, after report cards go out. We can discuss the outcome of grades and talk more helpfully about solutions. . . .”

Cynthia Mathews, Ed.D. (2020)

How to Teach Effectively

Teaching is imparting knowledge or skill to learners, right? Well, yes—but more: Teaching is imparting knowledge and managing students simultaneously.

The days for standing in front of students lecturing went nonviral decades ago. Today it takes a livelier environment to teach in the 21st Century.

Teaching requires being in the zone, watching and facilitating, allowing students to partake in their own learning. Students have opportunities to discover and create their own lessons when they are given autonomy of doing so.

While lecturing has its appeal—introducing new lessons, providing anecdotes to enhance imminent lessons, communicating with students, simply by relating to their personal interests, students nevertheless must be actively engaged in learning that lecturing rarely provides.

How to engage students? Well, “Flipping the Classroom” is one such style, as it requires students to take over the classroom rather than educators teaching most of the time. Flipping the classroom allows students to apply the learning objectives to discover new ideas about the lessons and to create assignments in their way, and then to explain the importance of the lessons and share how they plan to use the lessons to better their lives; flipping the classroom keeps students involved because they, not so much educators, are doing the work.

Moreover, when students create their own lesson-designs, good grades should follow whether or not “little Johnnie,” for instance, understood the gist of the assignment. He did indeed complete the lesson based on instructions, did he not? “Be creative; discover.” Good teaching is providing good grades for students and making complimentary, helpful notes on their assignments to cheer little Johnny along in learning so that negative grades will not hurt little Johnnie’s feelings, prompting him to give up trying.

Good teaching is extending the “most good” to every student. Everyday teaching is challenging because educators must also contend with individual-student concerns—on the spot. At this juncture, good teaching converts to good discipline. In doing so, educators must prepare themselves how to constructively handle common teaching scenarios.

When students venture off task, and some of them will, educators should reassess their student- management plan. Educators may ask themselves “Have students and I maintained civility by recognizing human traits we have in common? In other words, have we insisted on effective teaching and serious learning of the standards, so that everyone’s fullest potential is reached? Have we shown a sense of humor to lighten the load of the class work? Have we been helpful to one another, assisting the other when necessary? Most importantly, have we been patient with one another, not accepting one’s innate ways as a bother but as a pleasure to help the other?

What to do when educators and students have indeed recognized and acknowledged the basic human decencies yet misbehavior continues? Well, educators may resort to enforcing good student behavior and effective learning by following the effective teaching tips below:

(1) Talk with the student: Explain the importance of learning, and try to reach an agreement. Sometimes asking the student for his fine behavior and continuance of learning is the only caution necessary for misbehavior to disappear.

(2) As an assignment, instruct student to research the words “tack” and “deference.” Ask the student to assess his learning. Student will appreciate the learning but also will appreciate the teaching of important-civil words.

(3) Focus on the task or misbehavior, not on the student. Even if the student is wrong, he may be reluctant to admit it. A student may easily recoil if he feels singled-out.

(4) Provide a lot of positive reinforcement: Motivation. Motivation. Motivation.

(5) Talk earnestly with the student about the human-traits. When reminded, the student will behave appropriately because she will have recognized principles her mama or grand-mama taught her. Besides, a human being knows–deep in his soul–to show respect. Just politely remind her.

(6) Apologize if the student’s feelings have been hurt. Yet, ask for and extend cordial behavior.

(7) Call parents. Yet, do not complain about their child. Only ask for their support.

(8) Keep an eye on the student to show that he is being watched. He will secretly like and respect the minimal attention.

(9) When addressing student, call him by his name. A student enjoys the attention he receives by hearing his name, and he appreciates that his presences is realized.

(10) End of day, go home. Rest. Reflect. Start anew.

Cynthia Mathews, Ed.D. (2020)

Why Talking Teacher Tenure Is Smart

Why Talking Teacher-Tenure Is Smart


“Hey, Doc! Got a minute?”

“Good morning, Ginger. Yes. I have time. How are you?”

“Forgive me, but I have come to gossip.”

“Okay. I will indulge: but keep to the facts”—

“I saw it with my own eyes. . .
Isn’t there a teacher tenure-reason for dismissal policy?”

“Yes, there is.”

“Are you familiar with its policy?”

“Yes, I am, but what does teacher tenure have to do with”—

“Okay. Okay. I will tell you: Rumor has it that Mrs. Jumpstart and Mr. Peterson are having an affair”—

“Are, are, are—aren’t they both married, correct?”

“Yes! The rumor started on Facebook, but I actually caught a glimpse of Mr. Peterson touching Mrs. Jumpstart’s hand while they were walking to their offices. . .”

“Touching another’s hand is no proof that individuals are having a love affair. . .”

“Yes, but, it’s all over social media”—

“Look, Ginger: thanks, I have heard enough (Doc laughs seriously). If the only proofs you have are “rumor started on Social Media” and that you saw “them touch hands,” well, those reasons are not sufficient as proof for anyone’s dismissal.”’

“It’s not?”

“No. In most states, “immorality” is a reason for an employee’s dismissal. In fact, an approximate 22 out of 50 states’ policies report “immorality” as an intolerable aberrant force.”


“Meaning, if an employee is found to be immoral—under a fair trial-review the employee will be dismissed.”

“What are the basic tenets of teacher tenure, Doc?”

“Most states have their own metrics in which they follow, but in Delaware, for instance, the tenets are immorality, misconduct, incompetence, neglect of duty, willful and persistent insubordination, reduction in staff . . . And, in, say, Alabama, the tenets are incompetence, insubordination, neglect of duty, reduction in force, failure to perform duties in a satisfactory manner—-And, for one more example, in Maine, the tenets are oddly different, and they are unfit to teach, services not profitable for school, just cause, failure to help students pass state exams. . . However, immorality is not delineated in Maine’s policy, yet it could fall under its “just cause” category.”

“It’s true, then. . . One may compromise his or her job based on tenets of policy-law.”

“Yes! Therefore, as employees, we must be upstanding individuals and capable of implementing our jobs.”

“Poor Mrs. Jumpstart and Mr. Peterson. . . Perhaps they will not be ‘called on the carpet’”— How embarrassing would that be?”

“. . . And how immoral that would be. . . If rumor is on social media the possibility of review of the incident might be called. . . I hope for the sake of their honors that the situation turns mute and all will be forgotten—“

“Yet, in education—and in other sectors of business—one must be aware of tenure law. No one is exempt from its accountability. Teacher dismissal, for sure, “requires that the employment of a teacher whose teaching certificate is revoked by the State Superintendent of Education be immediately terminated,’ again, pending an overturn of the conviction.”’

“I realize that you shun gossip, Doc, yet, I am pleased I shared the situation with you because now I have a good understanding about the significance of teacher tenure, which you have patiently explained . . .”

“Gossip has its place, I suppose, only not at work. . . I, myself, try to do better because I know better. Yet, knowledge of policies is always supportive in upholding morality.”

“Thank you, Doc”—

“Ah, Ginger—remember the importance of teacher tenure law, and enjoy a long trouble-free career, and, saying with a caring tone, leave the gossip of “Jumpstart and Peterson to their own fates. . . ”

“I will, Doc. Thank you, again.”

Below are 10 Overall “Be” Tips for staying employed:

  • Be in position of job-preference.
    Be knowledgeable about job.
    Be competent in executing duties.
    Be mindful of hierarchy.
    Be professional.
    Be respectful.
    Be loyal.
    Be prudent.
    Be moral.
    Be nice.

Source: Education Commission of the States: Teacher Tenure-Reasons for Dismissal (2014)

How to use Stream of Consciousness to Motivate Yourself to Persevere

IMG_2547 (1)

How to use Stream of Consciousness to Motivate Yourself to Persevere

Still another day and nothing done. What’s really going on? Why am I not motivated to put action to my ideas? Perhaps my ideas are not clear enough. Perhaps I lack skills— no, no. That’s not it: I have skills. Then, in the blessed name of Marvin Gaye’, “What [the hell] is going on?”

Direction. That’s it: I lack direction. Which way to start? I have not mastered the understanding of direction: I mean, I see directions on a map—North, South, East, West, but how do I apply those directions to the streets? To real life?

You know, I may be on to something here. Perhaps I cannot motivate myself to do what needs to be done because I do not know which direction to take. Hmmm.

Even so, I can’t just sit here, blocking my own traffic. Yes, I can, for a little while. No, no, I can’t. My ‘little while’ has transformed into years. That’s un-look-able (un-look-able? I like that word). How can I look myself in the mirror or in my mind, for that matter? No, no. I must find a way to motivate myself, but how?

What did I used to do to accomplish my goals? I mean, I have accomplished a lot—higher education, production of programs, instruction for others—Ooh, no, wait: Let’s get real.

None of those accomplishments brought living-everyday-success That’s necessary for respectable survival, is not it? (That sounds corny). Still searching for truth. . . Well, what happened to the genuine goals?

Why did [they] not bring about necessary for every-day? Perhaps I pissed off people who could help me? Jealously of others, perhaps, too? No, no. No hubris about myself, really. Just insights.

So, I took the wrong direction again. My feet were on the accelerator too heavily, and I was passing by—No one likes being passed by. Perhaps? No, no, not even I.

So, wrong direction again? What else? What other realizations blocking my path of motivation? My feelings, my expectations, my-my-my ego? Well, that’s foolish. Throw ego out the window. No one cares about ego. Not even I—

Well, what have I read lately to help myself out of this conundrum? Well, according to research—motivation is all the same in significance— motivation is “to be moved to do something.”

I am moved. “Motivation is different for everyone, yes?” For me, motivation is action. It’s that star in the sky I have always been traveling to reach. Okay. I understand that part.

It’s time for new thought and firm action, Persona. My thoughts are visible. Now, what action, my dear? I shall position my mindset in a new direction. I must head north, no looking south. No deviating west or east. Just move north. Okay. I got this.

I will fuel my body-vehicle with tools I need to move north—computer, pen, paper (like stationery close by), cell phone (take notes there), gumption, and grit, and time.

Time?? Make it clear now. Yes, time. My body- vehicle must move within agile time to proceed readily: gumption and grit live within me—used to be—I was lost but now I’m found. [who said that? Is that a song?) . . . In other words, I was lost.

Feel better? Actually, I do. Just writing, rambling helps, just sharing my stream of consciousness . . .

So, Persona, what have I learned about motivating myself?

Well, in a nutshell, the critical lessons to motivate myself are these that shadow—

(1) Ask myself critical questions.

(2) Listen to my heart.

(3) Clear my directions.

(4) Put action to new thought.

(5) Organize my working tools.

(6) Use gumption and grit when maneuvering.

(7) Focus on my purpose.

(8) Share with others, and listen to their perspectives as well.

(9) Begin a journey of motivating myself to achieve my goals and to help others.

(10) Realize that writing and rambling can be motivating. [So, keep thoughts new, and keep action going—].

Well, I suppose it was, indeed, a good idea to just start writing— no rhyme, no cohesion, no direction—just thoughts: thoughts of feelings, feelings of guidance, and guidance for direction.

Cynthia Mathews

Doctor of Education



How to Motivate Teenagers to Learn

How to Motivate Teenagers to Learn


In recent findings, Cognitive Neuroscience supports “yes” to rewards to enhance learning outcomes.  Agreeing, Murayama & Kitafami (2014) reveal that a modulation function by the reward network in the brain sponges on a lift to influence cognitive progress, and a number of motivational studies proves that reward systems in schools elicit practical implications for education. Although students may learn extrinsically or intrinsically, the truth remains to be refuted either way that one approach is better than the other.

Research stands strong on each side of the see-saw contest. Intrinsic motivation is better than extrinsic motivation because intrinsic motivation emanates from within whereas extrinsic motivation emanates from outside, producing results only by extending rewards.

Other researchers posit rewards may indeed be helpful to learners yet only when the assigned task does not maintain already an intrinsic value for the learner. Meaning, if interest in a particular task does not automatically reside within the learner the reward may help to increase the interest for the task to be completed.

Consider a group of teenagers, ages—13-17–in a classroom setting—what is the norm of behavior the students present? Seminal research states, per public schools in United States, 33 percent of students show apathetic behaviors toward learning, and many classroom teachers would vouch that fewer than a normal class size of students show little interests in school or in learning overall.

Thus, would it be fair to infer that many students are not intrinsically motivated to learn? Students do not uphold personal interest in the task at hand, and some students would extrinsically complete assignments only due to being inspired or feared of the consequences.

Regardless, schools must uphold accountability to meet instructional standards for their students and school. A sensible strategy would be to include in lesson plans motivational programs to increase student interest in learning.

Motivation, which can be augmented with a little artfulness—could aid all types of learners. Thus, extrinsic or intrinsic value of learning becomes futile to argue given the knowledge that most students are not intrinsically motivated and need outside stimulation (extrinsic motivation) to spark their interests in learning—

Hence, a program of recognition and immediate feedback and assurance of miniature prizes— leading up to elevated prizes—is the most effective way to build momentum in student desired learning.

Teenagers adore prizes—snacks, free time, trophies, and money. Expressively, students appreciate recognition and are better motivated when their recognition accompanies a tangible prize. Thus, savvy educators might consider adopting a student motivational program by creating a viable plan that would be agreeable with all teachers; top educators should leave motivational incentives, however, up to individual teachers, expecting, of course, that all teachers will comply with implementing a motivational program.

Another consideration for motivating teachers to motivate students is to ask teachers to imagine evaluating dismal middle school students’ test scores; in this light, educators may be forced to reinvent the way they execute motivational instruction for students to increase their test scores. In any case, students may need to be extrinsically motivated first before they can become intrinsically motivated to enhance their learning and test scores.

Intrinsically or extrinsically— what does it matter to young students learning? Rare occasions exist where teenagers rebuff prizes. The implication is that educators should put more emphasis on student learning and apply tangible rewards that will help elicit academic success rather than rely totally on motivating students one-way-or-the-other—intrinsically or extrinsically.

In essence, if a means is feasible to recognize student academic improvement by motivational design, why bother with the question “which is better—intrinsic or extrinsic motivation?” Research supports both concepts as useful when applied to the equivalent student at hand.


Below are suggestions for starting a motivational classroom and school program:

(1) Begin with a motivational program in the classroom to evolve into a school program end of school year.

(2) Allow teachers autonomy in creating classroom programs yet to collaborate with other teachers in creating the end-of-year-program.

(3) Throughout the year, provide mini awards—compliments, sticker notes, acknowledgement, candy, and then end of every nine weeks, present a top student 9-week award.

(4) Display pictures of the 9-week winners inside classrooms and/or around the school building.

(5) End of school year, students for every class—math, English, science, history, etc.—that made top student each nine weeks— receive a prize (trophy and money).

(6) Use teacher money for classroom prizes (optional), yet check with curriculum department for monetary support granted to schools through federal funds. Or, ask the principal of school to sponsor the end-of-year-program via funds in his principal account.

(7) Announce end-of-year-winners through school intercom, social media, and local news. (2020)

Rate this:





How to Motivate Students to Copy Writings of the Greats

How to Motivate Students to Copy Writings of the Greats

BFF49311-BC23-416B-B304-21C3D4AF7F15-23630-000003EC49FA9D22 (1)

“My students will not write,” you complain.

Why not?

Have you observed their scribbles? Have you asked students why they do not write?

First, determine reasons for students’ unwillingness to write, and then generate a strategy to motivate students to write.

If you determine that students lack basic skills in writing, such as not knowing how to construct a sentence, start from the beginning: Teach parts of speech. Help students understand the basic elements of grammar—noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, preposition, adverb, interjection, and conjunction.

Students learning parts of speech will require time to learn because lessons should be spaced-taught and many examples should be illustrated, and students must be able to identify each part of speech.

For student mastery of parts of speech, speak the name of each part during instruction. Always call the term what it is—noun, adjective, conjunction. This strategy will help prolong students’ memory regarding the lesson. Moreover, repeat a myriad of exercises for student-identification of the parts of speech, for the more practice with parts of speech the more opportunity for student learning.

Next, teach sentence structure—sentence versus fragment; compound verses run-ons Also, add phrases, because phrases help to elongate sentences, which also adds to the structure quality of the statement.

To help students remember these lessons, review the lessons until students prove through assessments that they have mastered these skills. Only after students are able to identify the basics of grammar to influence their own writing will they be motivated to begin to write.

As a teacher, your next challenge will be to motivate students to generate ideas for which to write. You might encounter a stall in student-productivity by giving students writing-autonomy initially, yet always do.

If students have no idea what to write about and are not pleased with topics you, as teacher, suggest, students will shut down, for they would rather not complete the writing task, leaving you to figure out reason they do not write, before they scribble something proving they indeed cannot write. Many students will not place themselves in unfavorable conditions in front of others, and especially in front of teachers.

“So, how should I as a teacher motivate students to write?”

Do the unthinkable:

Allow students to “copy” excerpts or passages of classical or good writings. Because students are not required to think of their own topics, they will be motivated to simply copy a piece of writing to gain a sense of accomplishment and to avoid the truth of not knowing how to write.

Actually, copying good writers’ work used to be the norm in schools.

Prior to the twentieth century, schools encouraged students to copy writing styles of excellent writers. Some of the world’s best-known writers have mimicked their forerunners.

If you have studied the writing styles of Mahatma Gandhi, Henry Thoreau, Dr. Martin King, Jr., you may have noticed a similarity in their writing of’ sentence structures, in their writing of rhetoric, and in their writing of tones. The aforementioned writers are some of the best writers in the world, when, in fact, many of them copied writing styles of their predecessors or contemporaries.

By twentieth century, however, schools turned to new thought, encouraging students to think of their own ideas and to pen their own thoughts in their own writing styles; thus, began an onset of poor writers and students not attempting to write at all. Students illustrated that they were not ready to be independent writers nor thinkers, especially not during their former school years.

Looking back, our forebears may have understood that polished writings mimic the greats, and that beginner writers should mimic the greats, too.

The art of copying is a motivating strategy to proceed in learning lessons to be understood and to start with an approach that is easy and beneficial to learn.

“So, how should I as a teacher proceed with the copying idea?”

Well, to enhance instruction—curriculum, too, as a byproduct—generate classic essays from the past—works by Tolstoy, Virginia Wolf, Ralph-Waldo Emerson, Richard Wright, just to name a few, to allow students to copy their essays and articles. As a bonus, teach students about the authors’ lives to inspire them to visualize the writers as human beings same as the students are.

As a first lesson to this strategy, assign a read aloud session for students to volunteer to read a passage they will soon copy. Discuss the passage, and then assign a lesson from the passage for the students to copy.

Encourage students to think about what they are copying as they write, so that they will remember the importance of the passage as well as focus on developing a writing style indicative of their writing growth.

“So, motivate students to copy to learn?”

Yes. Always motivate students to write, and if some students show stubbornness about writing, continue to motivate them to write regardless. Motivate students to revel in their new found understanding and latent capability of writing.

Writing is a beautiful form of expression, and every student deserves the opportunity to learn about language, to copy good writers’ styles, to exercise their minds by viewing and studying quality topics, and, finally, to learn how to write.

“No more complaining from me. Going forward, my students will copy writing styles until they have mastered their own styles of writing.”

Absolutely. Let them copy. It’ s a good method to teach them writing.

Cynthia Mathews, Ed.D.

Below are writing strategies to help motivate your students to begin writing:

  1. Teach basic instruction of language.
  2. Space practice student learning of language.
  3. Select short classics (1 page) for students to copy.
  4. Read out loud the classic, and discuss its theme.
  5. Instruct students to copy the classic.

NOTE: A student may need the entire school year to apply this writing strategy, yet with perseverance on the teacher’s part and perseverance on the student’s part, the student can learn how to write, and the teacher can learn how to facilitate and motivate.

Cynthia Mathews, Ed.D.

Doctor of Curriculum and Instruction





How Dressing Professionally Correlates with Respect and Learning

How Dressing Professionally Correlates with Respect and Learning


Motivating students to be on their best behavior and to complete their class assignments start with a leader’s professional dress. While there may be other important points to consider when motivating students to learn, the professional dress is perhaps the best defense against students’ neglect of class assignments.

To fight a war (motivating soldiers/students to learn) warriors need to dress in armor to protect themselves from harm and to place themselves in a position of authority, one that is worthy of respect.

Therefore, to illustrate their authority, leaders and teachers—where appropriate— should dress in professional attire–coat and tie; dress and jacket–polished, comfortable shoes, to reveal they are in charge of the professional learning environment.

Seminal research reports that students are less likely to misbehave (neglect lessons) if they perceive their superiors as worthy of respect and warns that casual dress in a professional setting is a trap of confusion.

The report “Dress for Success” by Effective reveals that students do not learn because they like you, they learn because they respect you.”

The report reminds readers that since the 1980’s, data have shown that teachers who dress professionally produce higher test scores than teachers who dress casually.

Some research explained that when asked of students their preference for learning based on a teacher’s dress, students reported that a teacher who dressed professionally appeared smart and dependable and that they believed learning from teachers who were smart made them believe the lessons they learned were valid.

Supportive of the casual dress, the research also revealed that teachers who dressed casually made students believe the teacher was friendly and easy to approach.

This outcome is important because teachers should be approachable. Yet, common sense alerts people that a professional dress worn by leaders in a learning environment manifests “respect.”

People may not focus intently on the dress, necessarily, yet subconsciously, they have already decided that a professional appearance is preferable to that of a casual appearance, especially when learning from professionals.

Consider soldiers dressed in uniforms; they readily garner respect from other people because they represent honor: They are learned soldiers who fight to protect their people: Soldiers’ uniforms are reminders that persons wearing armor (professional clothing) should be respected.

Similarly, persons dressed in suits and ties or in dresses and coats garner obedience from others because the leaders’ dress-attire represents authority.

People may not readily realize individuals’ dress attire is reason for their respect of others, yet common sense allows truth to ring loud and clear. Leaders are recognized as persons who help others while others learn under their influence, and leaders’ uniforms, their professional dress, help bring about the respect for others to sit straight to listen, to learn.

“The Effect of Teachers’ Dress on Students’ Attitude and Students’ Learning” (Kashem 2019) agrees that the outlook of teachers’ professional appearance creates a learning impression into the minds of students.

The research finalized that teachers’ dress has a positive effect on students’ attitude in classroom learning and that dress reinforces an existing powerful hierarchy of teachers on the minds of others but also on the effectiveness of [instructional] delivery.  Https://

Suffice it to say, professional dress is the proactive shield against students’ possible apathy that prevents them from receiving  instruction. When a teacher arrives dressed in uniform (professional attire) for “instructional delivery,” the students succumb to the influence and abide respectfully, accordingly.

To help enhance instruction and to influence students to respect authority, below are ideas for maintaining a professional dress when teaching and leading others:

  1. Keep makeup to a minimal, and avoid false lashes unless professionally applied.
  2. Keep nails clean and medium or short in length.
  3. Wear a coat and tie every day. Take off coat when appropriate yet always keep on the tie.
  4. Wear a dress with sleeves and wear a coat with a dress without sleeves.
  5. Wear closed in shoes, never sandals or sling backs or tennis shoes.
  6. Keep hair medium to short length.
  7. Keep after shave and perfume to a minimal.
  8. Walk briskly while wearing a suit and tie or a dress and coat.
  9. Keep mints, not gum, in the mouth.
  10. Wear safe colors–black or navy or brown or grey and a touch of red.

Cynthia Mathews, Ed.D.


Doctor of Curriculum and Instruction

Presenter of Professional Development

“Professionalism is the key to effective classroom instruction.

Thank you. Let me hear from you.

How to Motivate Student Behavior through Proactive Strategies

How to Motivate Student Behavior through Proactive Strategies

IMG_1808 (1)

Stop student misbehavior before it happens: Be Proactive.

If you encounter belligerent students, ones that brazenly defy your authority and cause havoc in your classroom, you might be in desperate need to find a solution to this problem before it undermines your authority as teacher.

You must be careful how you proceed with student behavior because school policies and state education laws forbid you as teacher to stridently accost a student by forcing compliance upon her.

In fact, according to many school policies on restraint of students, students must not endure physical force unless such a restraint is necessary to protect students and others.

Belligerent students can become verbally defiant and apathetic about assignments, and they will challenge you as teacher to motivate them otherwise; you must apply classroom management techniques to thwart students’ misbehavior.

An effective way you may manage your students’ attitudes is to be proactive. You must have a plan and reinforce it from the beginning to the end of class time.

Below are strategies to help manifest students’ good behavior and motivate them to quell their bad habits to focus on their classwork instead.


  • Speak with dominance
    Uphold posture
    Be visible
  • Apply rigor
    Show respect
    Recognize Effort
    Bring innovation
    Greet people

Receive a free pamphlet by contacting the author:

PROACTIVE DISCIPLINE by Dr. Cynthia Mathews, Teacher, Professional Development Consultant, Author, Playwright.