Self Determination Theory is one of the strategies that Dream Directors consistently use to teach in our schools. It includes the need for humans to have autonomy, competence and relatedness. What does those terms mean in terms of our motivation?
Autonomy refers to “being self-initiating in regulating one’s actions, to being able to make independent choices that are not constrained by others, and having sufficient opportunity for self-expression (Phillipe & Vallerand, 2008).” The need for competence refers to “the inherent striving to be able to do something well, or to be effective in mastering the environment—learning new skills in the process—and feeling the pleasure of being effective (Verleysen et al.,2015).” The need for relatedness refers to the “desire to feel connected to others—to love and care, and to be loved and cared for. (Verleysen et al.,2015).”
The way this shows up with my students is giving them autonomy from the very beginning so they know that they are in control. It's consistently giving them structures to operate within then allowing them to succeed or fail within that structure. Students have a 5 point structure to run their own meetings. Team ritual, Icebreaker, , activity/workshop, shoutouts, updates/announcements. What seems so simple can easily be solved by giving Execute and repeat, Execute and repeat until it comes a skill they master.
Competence is more challenging working with high school students that tend to lack apathy for school in general but especially when achieving mastery is not their goal, just getting by typically is. The key to mastery amongst students is once they are engaged and experiencing autonomy, highlight their new found ability and skills verbally in private and in public. Blow it way out of proportion on the positive side so they know you are seeing their growth.
Relatedness is the point and goal of creating a team of students to do the work in our schools together. Student councils, student governments, and dream teams. My students also each have accountability partners on their team. They can rely on each other and keep each other accountable knowing that everyone is working towards a shared vision and goal.