Talia Fishbine, Assistant to the Lower School Head, Communications Intern
Making the not-so-long trek from my office to the 3/4 Building, it strikes me that I could be walking forward in time; the enthusiasm and joy I see in our 3rd and 4th graders' faces is no different from the enthusiasm and joy that I see in the faces of our ECU and Primary Unit students. There's something so unique and special about a school that not only preserves the joy and curiosity that all children have, but that also encourages children to passionately pursue that joy and curiosity for themselves. One of our greatest strengths as a school and community is creating a space where students love learning for learning's sake.
The 3/4 Building is a space where students really come into their own as lifelong learners. To find out more about how the 3/4 Unit builds upon the foundation set by the Primary Unit and prepares students for Middle School, I decided to have a chat with Alison, one of our 4th grade teachers, about the role that intrinsic motivation plays in the work she does as a progressive educator.
Talia: How would you describe intrinsic motivation and why we value it so much at Green Acres?
Alison: Intrinsic motivation is internal passion, a genuine interest, a natural spark and curiosity. It's important to tap into what children are interested in and grow the ideas they already have—but you also have to balance it with introducing new motivations and new ideas.
T: How do you support children to be intrinsically motivated in your classroom?
A: Whenever possible, I give them assignments where they have opportunities to use their own interests and experiences. For example, a writing project that's coming up is a short memoir of an experience they had over summer break. And when we do our world celebrations unit later in the year, students will be able to choose a celebration to research that really interests them.
T: When a child loves learning for the sake of learning, what does that look like in the 3/4 Unit?
A: It looks like children who are upset when they have to miss school! They're involved in wanting to explain things to other children, and they will even lead large group discussions. There are lots of smiles, and there's a positive glow and energy in the way they move around campus.