What motivates you?

Education, Motivation

Got motivation?

The motivation to achieve is what really creates that passion and buzz in what you are doing. Within education I believe that state of mind and motivation is the key to success. So much has been written regarding motivation and the effects it has on us as individuals, yet motivation is often hard to define. What’s motivating varies depending on the individual, which is why motivation is such a unique process.

The reason behind why we are doing something is too easily forgotten. Excitement, enthusiasm and passion not only come from a love of something, but also knowing what it is you want to achieve and how you are going to get there. Things wont always work out perfectly, but it’s about having the mentality to keep going.


Motivation is essentially based on our feelings, our thought processes and how we act on these. For example, a student may be motivated to work hard because their thought process is that they don’t want the shame and humiliation of failing. Or, a student may be focused on the pride and self-satisfaction that they will receive if they do well. Motivation is personal to each of us, it’s about having a focus in mind so that even when you want to give up, (which at times we all definitely do) there is something telling you not to. I think what’s important is getting students to think about this. These feelings are the side effects and triggers to motivation.

dont give up

Thoughts trigger action and therefore discussing what motivates a student is an incredible way of getting them focussed on wanting to achieve. Making someone self-aware can have fantastic results. Visualising where you want to be, thinking of goals and how you are going to get there, is what motivates most of us and influences how committed we are to something.

In terms of education, this doesn’t just mean thinking short-term. It’s about more than being motivated to get a good mark in an essay, or getting the results they need to go to college; it’s about being motivated to work towards the future you visualise. Thinking about what you can do in the short-term to enable yourself to get to where you want to be in the future. Channelling that thought process into everyday school life creates goal-orientated individuals that know the meaning behind why they are doing something.


It makes me sad to think that there are young people out there that lack the motivation they need to reach their full potential. Underachieving due to this is so easily avoided. Motivation 100% affects learning and behaviour in schools. It gives students the energy to keep going and creates the high effort levels needed to achieve. When you are motivated you have the ability to confront challenges you face. It makes an aspiring individual and determines the direction you take.

I believe that discussing what motivates you should without doubt be a focus within school, helping to encourage that love and want to learn from a young age. Being motivated forms a whole new outlook to life and makes students take responsibility for their own education. Motivation is not just something that benefits students now, but throughout the whole of their life. It creates an improved performance in  everyone and enables each of us to maintain a positive attitude.

Work hard, dream big and make things happen.


Written by Holly Chandler


Educating Cardiff-Review


Episode 4 of Educating Cardiff took me back to my years at secondary school. It made me reflect- as often programmes such as these do.

Although it was the first episode of this series that I have watched I still felt instantly connected to both the teachers and the students. This was once a school where only 14% of their students achieved A*-C grades. This figure however has now increased to 50%- making it one of the nations most improved schools!

Last night’s episode focussed mainly on Linda, a young girl with the ability to achieve but who let behavioural issues get the better of her.

Both the Head (Mrs Ballard) and the focus teacher (Mr Sage) really proved in this episode that they go the extra mile to help the students at Willows High School. They showed care and compassion resulting in heart-warming viewing.

We saw at the beginning of the episode Linda incorrectly calculating 99+10- a sum she clearly had the ability to work out. This clip emphasised her bad attitude towards education and her ‘kick up a fuss’ ways.

Mr Sage (Linda’s head of house) showed a well thought out approach to dealing with Linda’s behaviour. It was evident that he wanted her to improve and genuinely believed in her ability- “work with me, you are better than that.” Fighting a continued battle of Linda being on report and her insisting that she ‘hates it when teachers tell her what to do’, it was obvious that something needed to change! He showed a good balance between discipline and understanding which made him a brilliant head of house and support figure for Linda. Linda was troubled, but she without doubt wanted to be better and all she needed was a little encouragement.

Mr Sage believed that Linda’s behaviour and attitude was partially due to her lack of stimulation from being in set 3. She was regularly loosing concentration in class due to tasks being too easy for her, which meant that she completed her work before other students and was left restless. The main reason for her being in this set was due to poor behaviour. For teachers such as Mr Sage there are so many decisions to make in situations like this one. I can only imagine how stressful weighing up the choices must be. Both Mr Sage and Mrs Hammond after much deliberation decided to move Linda from set 3 to set 1 in all subjects, in hope that this would improve her attitude and stop her ‘playing up’ in the classroom.

Mrs Ballard refers to herself as not being ‘a traditional head teacher’ and I would probably agree with this- I honestly don’t remember my Head showing such sincere and endearing qualities. When she bought a present for Linda’s brother, to be posted on Linda’s behalf, I felt as though I understood her passion, her want to help, and her desire to be involved in the student’s lives- this student in particular. Linda’s brother had been sent to the Czech Republic to live with his Grandmother, due to his Mother no longer being able to deal with his bad behaviour. Both Linda and her brother were very big characters. Remaining at school without her brother left Linda very distressed.

Seeing Linda cry made me want to reach through the screen to hug her and seeing Mr Sage with tears in his eyes made me realise that teachers often can’t help but get emotionally involved in situations that often are out of their control. Mr Sage in this case clearly felt genuine sympathy.

The episode really confirmed for me the fact that what happens outside of the school environment has a huge impact on how students behave within school, something often too easily forgotten.

I loved Mrs Hammond’s idea of asking Linda to write a letter to include her thoughts. The outcome of this showed us all that Linda did have that desire to do well. She wanted to move sets, she wanted to improve her behaviour and she wanted to prove herself to Mrs Hammond and Mr Sage.

Improved body language, a more positive attitude and increased mental stimulation- it was clear that the decision to move Linda in to set 1 was a beneficial one for her. The clips of her weeks later showing a dramatic change in behaviour throughout classes was heart-warming to see.

She gained respect for her class teacher’s discipline and was taking responsibility for her own education. I felt many emotions towards Linda throughout the episode but ultimately I was pleased. I was pleased that it worked out for her, that Willows didn’t give up on her, but was with her every step of the way! She could now be proud of herself.

People emphasise that there are more things to life than education and I believe this to a certain extent, but at the end of the day whether a student loves or hates school, they have to go. School isn’t just about education though; it’s about the relationships you develop, your behavioural characteristics and your attitude to life. When I watch programmes such as these I realise the real impact teachers have on children. Each teacher is different, but each teacher has the ability to make such a big difference to every student.

Be More Awesome.

Education, Teacher Resources, Uncategorized

A recent Guardian article on the latest research from the London School of Economics highlighted “confidence is key to success at schools.” Erm…I could have told them that without a survey or expensive research but I’m pleased that it has been picked up by a national paper.

Confidence is essential, not just for school but for life. You need confidence to make friends, to ace that exam, to apply for that job, to become someone you admire. All that takes confidence.

Sadly, young people today are filled with self – doubt. I often hear,  “I can’t do it, Miss” “It’s too hard,” or worst of all, “What’s the point? I will never be able to do it anyway.”

This lack of confidence and self belief in their own ability to succeed is epidemic. What or who is responsible I don’t know. But I do know that as teachers we have a responsibility to help our students develop into confident and motivated young adults.

As a motivational and confidence boosting activity I have students write where they want to be in sixth months time, then a year, then in two years, three, five and so on. Before I do this, I stress that goals are not immovable objects. Goals are there to guide you, to keep moving you forward. Life after all, is about being flexible and adjusting to whatever it throws at you.

Goals are great but they are nothing without realistic action plans. I make students literally list out every single action that needs to be taken. For example, Kim received a D in her mock English GCSE.

Goal: Get a B in my GCSE exam

Action Plan:

  1. Talk to teacher about possible exam topics
  2. Create a realistic revision timetable
  3. Research topics by using the internet, library and personal notes
  4. Create mind maps or helpful memory strategies and stick them all over my bedroom/study wall
  5. Form a study group with friends
  6. Practise past exam papers
  7. Review my revision notes for 10 minutes every day
  8. Go to the exam hall to make a memory palace
  9. Relax before the night of the exam. Visualise being successful in the exam.
  10. Rock the exam!

This may be simplistic but creating a step – by – step action plan makes a seemingly impossible goal become attainable. Suddenly, students faces light up as it dawns on them that they can do it, they can achieve.

You can see the difference when there is no action plan.

  • Jim’s goal is to get a C in his Math exam so he must revise.

Revise what?! What is Jim’s strength and weaknesses? Is there a particular unit of maths he needs to improve? When will he revise?! How will he revise? Who will help him revise?!

I can feel poor Jim’s panic rising, the bewilderment of where to start or what to do next, as he stares blankly at his math’s text book, feeling stupid and frustrated. So he thinks “What’s the point?” gives up and walks away. His math’s exam becomes another thing he fails at bringing his confidence to an all time low.

Having a clear, simple and structured action plan makes a world of difference. This doesn’t just apply to short – term goals or exams. Take Jenny’s lead; she is in her final year at sixth form.

Goal: To become a paediatric nurse

Action plan:

  1. Find out what the entry requirements are to become a nurse (2 or 3 A – Levels)
  2. Ask friends and family if they know any nurses to get firsthand advice
  3. Apply for work experience with children, preferably local hospitals.
  4. Visit universities offering nursing courses – pick top three!
  5. Begin application process
  6. Write first draft of personal statement then ask for advice from teachers and parents
  7. Re-write statement until happy!
  8. Submit application
  9. Be accepted onto a course
  10. Complete the course
  11. Qualify!

Each action point can be broken down even further as and when they come up. Simple yet effective!

I suggest to students they should keep their goals and action plans somewhere safe – their wallet, diary, favourite coat pocket, or bedroom wall – so if it all gets too much or they just need to remind themselves of their aims, its there within reaching distance just like their dreams.

With confidence, you have won before you have started. – Marcus Garvey

Failing all that, check out my ‘Be More Awesome. Be You’ roadshow

Learning is Fun. Promise.

Creativity, Education, Learning, Learning Performance, Motivation, Teacher Resources

“I don’t love studying. I hate studying. I like learning. Learning is beautiful.”

Natalie Portman

I was so disheartened last night after a twitter conversation with @tesbehaviour that I fancied crawling under the bedcovers, only resurfacing for flapjacks and custard creams – the two best things in the world.

I didn’t do that, of course, tempting as it was but I did have a cup of tea with custard creams – any excuse.

A well – respected educational resource with a large following said “learning can’t always be fun.” Five trigger words that makes me want to leap onto my moral horse and gallop into the teaching battlefield screaming ‘Infidels! Fun Learning War!’ 

I am a realist. I do realise that not every lesson will be a roller coaster of rip – roaring laughter. We are teachers, not stand-up comedians. So it is important to realise ‘fun’ doesn’t just mean mucking about.

‘Fun’ is defined as something that brings pleasure or enjoyment.’  Synonyms are; interesting, engaging, & gratifying.

Surely that is exactly what learning should be?! 

To argue students misbehave because they are bored or think its funny is missing the point. Pupils shouldn’t be bored or having to seek their amusement elsewhere. Lessons that engage, interest and gratify students demonstrate that education and school has tangible value. And when we value something, we pay attention and work hard.

It doesn’t take much energy, time, planning or imagination to make learning fun and yes, this includes even so – called ‘difficult’ subjects like Maths or Science. See Lesson StartersRevision Games & Creative A – Maps for some quick & adaptable ideas.

And a big thank you to Miss Sykes & Helan Victoria who shared their enthusiasm for learning and preventing me from falling into a custard cream coma.

What we learn with pleasure, we never forget. 

Timing is everything – Time Management

Education, Exams, Learning Performance, Motivation, Revision, Study Skills, Teacher Resources

I’ve been struggling to manage my time recently. There simply isn’t enough hours in the day. So I thought I better sort my chaotic life out, and practice what I preach.


Everyone likes a good list, especially if you can tick things off immediately. But once I’ve written my list of things to do I rate them. The official line to students is to rate them as per the following:

A = Very Urgent (deadline imminent)

B = Quite Urgent (deadline about a week away)

C = No so Urgent (deadline longer than a week)

Personally, I use colour and symbols. I won’t tell you what the symbols are, they’re rude! Moral of the lesson is that you can use whatever rating system that works for you.

Good Plan

A list is all very good and well but you can action any of the points unless you can plan or know what you are going to do.

This is where my five golden features come into play:

1. Description of the task

2. Allocation of priorities

3. Estimation of the time needed

4. Setting up a timetable (if necessary – this is good for revision)

5. Monitoring of progress (basically a big fat tick when that blasted task is done!)

This may seem very basic and common sense (it is) but I’m always surprised to find students who simply don’t know how to manage their time.

It’s easy to identify pupils (and adults for that matter) who haven’t got effective time management strategies. They are usually the ones drowning in work, buried under the pressure of unfinished assignments and missed deadlines. Then you have the opposite spectrum; those who are so overwhelmed by the tasks ahead they bury their heads in the sand and pretend its not happening.

With exams so close, it may be an idea to remind students of these simple strategies to keep them in track. Failing that encourage them to download an app on their phone. I’m lost without my ScatterBrain app.

For more information please visit our website www.learningperformance.com 


The final push to exams!

Education, Exams, Learning, Motivation, Study Skills, Teacher Resources

As exams draw near we are getting increasing queries about how to motivate students or give them that final push!

Let’s not be under any illusion… Motivation is not an exact science and there’s no silver bullet. Responsibility for any individual’s education belongs and always has belonged with that individual. If a student wishes to learn then they will, if not they won’t.

However, there are plenty of motivational theories to choose from such as, Abraham Maslow’s “Need Hierarchy Theory”, “Theory X and Theory Y” of Douglas McGregor, and Goal Setting Theory of Edwin Locke…. to name but a few.

Ours is simple;

Lack of Self-Belief + No Goal + No Plan = LOW MOTIVATION

Lack of self – belief is usually the core issue. If students believe they can’t do something, then why bother putting any effort in? There are a number of things a teacher can do to help encourage students self – belief and confidence. The simplest is praise; positivity can go a long way. After all, you may be the first person to tell them they can achieve.

The other is getting students to look at their mindset. Professor Carol Sweck’s summary of growth and fixed mindset is brilliant. Dweck’s work can open our eyes to the possibilities for growth across different areas of our lives, while alerting us to the fixed mindsets that may be weighing down our careers, relationships, families, or schooling.

Students (and you) can discover what mindset they are with this simple test. Just click on the link to download the questionnaire. What is your mindset

You can then encourage students to grow, develop and achieve.

As Dweck says;

The fixed mindset limits achievement. It fills people’s minds with interfering thoughts, it makes effort disagreeable, and it leads to inferior learning strategies. What’s more, it makes other people into judges instead of allies. Whether we’re talking about Darwin or college students, important achievements require clear focus, all-out effort, and a bottomless trunk full of strategies. This is what the growth mindset gives people, and that’s why it helps their abilities grow and bear fruit.

To book a motivation workshop for students or staff contact us on 01903 872 849 or email carrie@learningperformance.com



Go for Gold: Our part of the Olympic Legacy

Education, Enterprise, Learning Performance, Olympic Legacy, Teacher Resources

There has been a lot of media attention lately on the Olympic legacy or lack of it after the London Games.

I adored the Games. I became interested in sports I didn’t know existed. I even cried when the guy won gold in shooting. Cried?! Yup. The olympic games in London was simply fantastic and united the nation for a brief moment.

We wanted to be part of the Olympic legacy. So we teamed up with Abi Griffiths, sports TV presenter, marathon runner and motivational speaker.  We wanted to take the benefits of sport; the focus, determination, empowerment, self – belief, the achievement and the ability to overcome obstacles into the classroom. 

The positive impact of sport on personal development, social skills and especially, academic studies should not be underestimated. Sport allows us to tap into a winning formula. It has the ability to transform and enrich lives, so that we too can wear our own gold medals!

These admirable qualities and valued life skills are not the birthright of world class athletes only. They can belong to each and every one of us. That is the real Olympic legacy.

If you would like to ‘Go for Gold,’ contact me carrie@learningperformance.com or call 01903 872 849 to book this motivational workshop. 


Lesson Starters: Grab Students’ Attention.

Creativity, Education, Enterprise, Exams, Learning, Learning Performance, Study Skills, Teacher Resources

Students will have done lots of things since they last saw you. So you need to get their attention. Here are some motivational and fun lesson starter ideas that require minimal planning:

  • Paper Aeroplanes

Give students 30 seconds to recall three main points about a particular unit, topic or even the last lesson they had with you. Have them write down their points on a piece of paper. Make a game of this, apply mock pressure as the time runs out or even have the Countdown clock counting down the thirty seconds!

Once you are satisfied with their answers get the pupils to create planes with their paper. Place a bin in the middle of the room and explain the bin represents their brains. They have to aim their planes into the bin or brain! This game can be taken further by giving a prize to the student who lands their plane first!

This exercise encourages students to recall information, while jazzing things up so they don’t actually realise they are consolidating their learning. Students will remember shooting the planes and with association the points on it.

  • You say we pay

This can be a class exercise or students can be put into pairs. If using as a class exercise, show one student an image or something relevant to the topic/lesson. They then have to describe the image to the rest of the class, without saying exactly what it is. This can be made tougher by introducing taboo words that can’t be said.

  • Who am I?

Classic game. Write key terms on a series of post – it notes. Stick a post it note on each pupil’s head and get them to ask their partners questions about who/what they are. Their partners can only answer yes or no.

  • Bob It.

Bobbing is the art of raising yourself out of your seat a little bit then sitting back down. It is the kinesthetic equivalent of putting your hand up. Simply question the class and get them to ‘bob’ if they think it is correct. For instance, ‘World War II began in 1939.’ Mix it up with false statements to catch students out.

This is also a good way to gauge pupil’s knowledge and highlight any areas that need extra work.

These ideas should kick – start your lesson and have pupils engaged from the beginning. Remember to enjoy yourself too!

If you liked these ideas try David Starbuck ‘Creative Teaching; Learning with Style.’ or www.learningperformance.com