Social learning theory, Service, and Self-efficacy

What I’m Reading:  This week I’m nerding out on articles about social learning theory and motivation. If you read Tuesdays post on motivation, and want to explore the concepts I discussed further, follow the links below.

 Building Confident Learners: Help learners build self-efficacy by:

  • Providing them with a balance of tasks that challenge them and that they complete easily. In other words give them opportunities for success from time to time.
  • Modeling a belief in your own ability to be successful by persevering through a problem.
  • Giving them verbal confirmation that they will be able to complete the task at hand.

What Gives Me Joy: Meeting new people and working with others. This week I had the opportunity to volunteer, and to meet a handful of new people. Feeling useful and helpful gives me a sense of purpose,  which in turn gives me joy.

The joy of learning. Together



Trying to teach a lesson or subject to a student who is unmotivated by the content is likely every teacher and parent’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, there are many things we are unmotivated by, but which need still to be completed. For example, I am generally unmotivated to do the dishes or vacuum the mass amount of husky fur off our carpet. If I don’t wash the dishes or vacuum however, all kinds of hygienic problems will surely ensue. In this case the aversion to impending mold filled plates and fur tumbleweeds motivate me to do the chores.

brain key

Young students however have less motivation to do an uninteresting task because they often to not see the point for various reasons. There is a lot of research on brain development which I could write an entire paper on, so I’ll just tell you to look up brain development and motivation if you’re interested. Simply put, motivation has everything to do with learning. No motivation=less learning potential. That’s why relevance is so important. You can’t force a learner to be magically interested in a subject they don’t like or feel they are bad at, but you can try to work in something of interest to them.

So what makes a student motivated to learn? Remember last week’s post on “Imposter Syndrome”? In that post I explained that I thought I didn’t have anything to say so I wasn’t motivated to write. This illustrates that perceived success is either very motivating or very demotivating. Both external and internal reinforcement are big motivators, connection to past learning, rewards (to a certain extent), goal achievement, and energy levels are other important factors. Don’t get me started on social learning theory, but social influences make a difference too. Look it up, alright?

If you’re interested in this topic and want to learn more about motivation and learning I suggest reading this excerpt from “Educational Psychology Developing Learners” at Look up social learning theory, and brain development while you’re at it…if you’re motivated to do so.

The joy of learning. Together.





Imposters Everywhere


I sat down to write this post and I really did not feel inspired. I didn’t feel like I had anything riveting to share, and I wasn’t in the mood to write. Here’s why: First, I like many people, sometimes fall into the metaphorical pit of self-pity where I envelop myself in histrionic feelings of inadequacy. Sounds like a real party, am I right? Second because I felt like this post was doomed to failure I did not feel motivated to write it. With all this fun stuff rolling around in my head I opened up my computer to get down to business. It’s not surprising that I found plenty of things on the Internet that were more interesting (a cinnamon roll recipe, various crochet patterns, facebook posts, emails, my bank account, literally anything else). Eventually I wrangled my brain and summoned some self-control. I then pulled up a blank Word document to get to work. Oh the joy of a blank Word document! So new, so full of opportunity, so saturated with feelings of dread, and doom, and panic.

Alright, the good news is that all this eventually lead me to be inspired to write about a few topics and their impact on learning. “Imposter Syndrome”, motivation, and “grit”. This week a look into “Imposter Syndrome” and learning. In one sentence, “Imposter Syndrome” is the condition of feeling like you’ll be found out for being an actual idiot, and for not being good enough at your job, in your home, as a parent, as a spouse, at school etc…Much of the research on this phenomenon has been done on adults but I would argue that the beginning symptoms of it are percolating in our youth as well. The idea that everybody else has it all figured out is both comforting and horrifying. It’s nice to believe that there is an end point, where you’ll eventually know how to do everything you’ve ever wanted to be able to do. It’s horrifying to feel like everybody but you, has already done it. I saw my students experiencing this when we learned something new, as their eyes darted from person to person hoping to see some signs of confusion that mirrored theirs. I heard my students say, “But I just can’t do it, I’m not smart enough.” Some suggest that “Imposter Syndrome” is only evident in high achieving people but in my experience I’ve seen all types of students experience some form of it.

What can you do to help someone through the effects of “Imposter Syndrome”? Be vulnerable. Show them you’re flawed too and that you don’t have it all figured out either. And then, talk about what you do know (because you know a lot) and use your skills to support the child through their process. Show them that thier best can be good enough, and when a little boost is needed help is just an ask away. Remind them that learning is a never-ending process no matter who you are. Success cannot be achieved without the help of others. Teamwork is everything.

The joy of learning. Together. 


If you want to read more about helping your child when they experience “Imposter Syndrome”, check out this quick read: “How to Help Your Kid Through Bouts of Imposter Syndrome”.