Purpose: The Performance Enhancer

bulls_eyeDaniel Pink, author of Drive (Riverhead, 2009) and A Whole New Mind (Riverhead, 2006), contributed an interview to the September issue of ASCD’s journal Educational Leadership. In the article, “Motivated to Learn: A Conversation with Daniel Pink,” he makes a strong case for educators providing students with more autonomy in what they study and how they demonstrate their learning. (He also makes a credible case for why there should be less “standardization” in school systems.) While the majority of the article focuses on preK-12 student engagement, he also addresses educators’ motivations to teach.

Pink rightly notes that most of us did not enter the teaching profession to make a “pile of money.” Rather, we are educators because teaching gives us a sense of purpose. Pink notes: “Teachers need to bring that sense of purpose to the surface. They need to talk more about why they went into teaching, why it matters, why they’re making this contribution to the world” (16).

Mr. Pink and I are on the same page. Purpose is a “performance enhancer.” If educators (and students) know why we are doing something and what it means to us personally, then we are more likely to be committed to doing our best.

On August 20th, I had the opportunity to share an advocacy and coteaching workshop with K-12 school librarians in Northwest ISD (near Fort Worth, Texas). During the workshop, we engaged in some frank conversations about the state of librarianship in this growing-by-leaps-and-bounds district. We applauded the district’s commitment to full-time professional school librarians in every school. We wondered aloud together about how we can help the district take the next steps to ensure that all students and teachers have access to the resources of the library at the point of need and to collaborative work with the school librarian to help students achieve deep learning.

The “why” of our conversation was assumed but not articulated. If I had it to do over again, I would ask the librarians to remind themselves of why they entered the library profession. In what ways does serving as the school’s librarian give purpose to their lives as educators? As we launch into the new school year, let’s keep the “whys” on our minds. Those are the values that guide us as we teach with purpose. Those are the motivators that can enhance our performance.

Works Cited

Moreillon, Judi. Advocacy for School Library Leaders: A Call to Action. 20 Aug. 2014. Web. 4 Sept. 2014. <http://advocacy4schoollibraryleaders.pbworks.com>.

Pink, Daniel. “Motivated to Learn: A Conversation with Daniel Pink.” Educational Leadership 72 (1): 12-17.

Pippalou. DSCN8820.JPG. Digital Image. Morguefile. Web. 4 Sept. 2014. <http://mrg.bz/Eah87Z>.

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About Judi Moreillon

Judi Moreillon, M.L.S, Ph.D., has served as a school librarian at every instructional level. In addition, she has been a classroom teacher, literacy coach, and district-level librarian mentor. Judi has taught preservice school librarians since 1995. She taught courses in instructional partnerships and school librarian leadership, multimedia resources and services, children’s and young adult literature, and storytelling. Her research agenda focuses on the professional development of school librarians for the leadership and instructional partner roles. Judi just completed editing and contributing to Core Values in School Librarianship: Responding with Commitment and Courage (Libraries Unlimited 2021). She has published four other professional books including Maximizing School Librarian Leadership: Building Connections for Learning and Advocacy (ALA 2018). (See the book study on this blog.) Judi earned the American Library Association's 2019 Scholastic Library Publishing Award.

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