The Magic of the Self
It’s always incredible watching a magician turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. After an act of magic, we are often left in awe, unable to comprehend how the magician pulled off what we just saw.
I’ve always been fascinated by acts of magic, and I’ve also always been fascinated by the results that self-motivated people yield. Recently, I’ve realized the magical similarities that exist between these two things:
Once you become internally motivated in your daily pursuits, your potential becomes magical. Much like a magician who leaves an audience wide-eyed and filled with wonder, self-motivation enables you to produce awe-inspiring results that others find amazing to witness and difficult to replicate.
When you deconstruct an act of magic, the (sad) reality is that there is no magic involved, yet there is no denying that the final results are often still magical. Highly motivated people achieve results using very much the same methods a magician learns to leave an audience in awe:
- The end result is only possible because of consistent practice. Magicians and internally motivated people produce incredible final results because of a disciplined approach to improvement, a willingness to fail yet keep trying, and strong attention to detail.
- What we don’t see is key. Magicians thrive on what they can do that that the audience cannot see, and the same is true for internally motivated people. The “unseen hours” of disciplined effort that self-motivated people pour into their goals are key to producing the results that make people say “wow – how did they do that?”
- The power of self-belief. Magicians believe they can create new versions of reality and make the impossible possible. Internally motivated also believe in their ability to make an old version of themselves disappear while a new one reappears before our very eyes.
At the end of the day, we all possess the ingredients required to create prestigious results.
There’s no magic to the above quote from Muhammad Ali, but it’s easy to see how his self-motivation was paramount to producing magical results.
You might not be a magician, but you can make your life a little more magical with self-motivation.
I had a cool experience on The High Performing Educator podcast with host, Sam Demma. It was my first podcast, so I was quite nervous, but Sam made it easy – he’s a pro! Check out the episode here as we discuss teaching and leadership philosophies:
Dealing with Deadlines
The way in which teachers choose to deal with late assignment submissions is an often-debated topic with a multitude of approaches. I shared my strategy via Twitter, and it seemed to be well received, so I decided to elaborate on it in case you’d like to try it this school year.
For assignments, I use a floating deadline.
For example, if I assigned a small project today (Wednesday), I might say that it is due any day next week. This approach allows students to build the assignment into their own unique (and busy) schedules. If students come to see me before the deadline ends and request an extension, I ask them to set the new deadline, which then becomes firm.
Why I like the floating deadline approach:
- Students seem to appreciate the flexibility of the floating deadline. Generally speaking, teenagers today are busier (and also more distracted) than ever. The floating deadline encourages students to prioritize their life and learning in a way where they can feel in control.
- It encourages ongoing assessment and dialogue. For students who submit assignments early in the week, I can provide verbal or written feedback and allow students to make improvements before the final day of the deadline. For students who haven’t submitted the assignment by mid-week, I can check in to see if the reason is schedule/time-management related or learner related. If it’s the latter, we can have a discussion to get the student back on track.
- It encourages student responsibility. If students aren’t going to demonstrate their learning within the floating deadline, they must come to see me before the deadline ends if they still wish to have the opportunity. Once they demonstrate this proactive behavior, they are then responsible for setting a new, reasonable deadline. From my experience, very few students try to take advantage of this. More so, they are grateful for any extension that they receive and try not to make it a habit. I also let students know that they can only go to the well so many times when it comes to requesting extensions.
- Better quality assignments are submitted. From my experience, generally speaking, students produce better work when they do not feel rushed. The floating deadline allows for more formative feedback for some, less rushed work for others, and overall better-quality work.
- Focuses on growth more than grades. No percentage points are deducted for late submissions. Fewer assignments are simply not-handed-in because I can meet with those who haven’t submitted yet and are struggling. I can provide feedback and allow time for improvements. And lastly, I’ve removed the common (and understandable) excuse of not having enough time!
That’s my floating deadline strategy (and rationale) in a nutshell. Should you choose to give it a try and have any questions or feedback, I’d love to hear from you. Happy teaching!