Motivating Older Kids in a Traditional School Setting with Andy Smallman
June 15, 2020
motivating older kids

It’s so much easier to motivate kids when you, the educator, have choices and the flexibility to teach to the students rather than the test. And when you can craft learning experiences around student passions. But in a traditional school setting, this is a much more difficult endeavor.

Though this week’s guest on the Education Evolution podcast was founder and director of the micro-school Puget Sound Community School for 24 years. Andy Smallman is passionate about ensuring that all children have the opportunity to learn. There he was able to empower teachers and students alike and allow his students to grow to love learning.

Find out more about how Andy was able to facilitate learner-centered learning, where his efforts to promote kindness came from and how teachers can truly engage students with one simple action every day.

About Andy Smallman

Andy Smallman is the visionary and founding director of the Puget Sound Community School, an independent school in Seattle for students in grades 6-12 that helps them build on their strengths and nurtures their intrinsic motivation. Along with the mentoring work he’s done over the years with adolescents, Andy is known for his efforts to promote kindness, has been the officiant at numerous weddings, has facilitated evening & weekend workshops for adults, and is regularly sought out for counsel. In everything he does, Andy helps people see the awe both inside and all around them. Meet Andy via video here.

Jump Through the Conversation

[2:18] Example of engaged, interdisciplinary learning (radio/art/writing)
[4:52] How to motivate kids when you’re in a more traditional school setting
[7:07] Steps a traditional classroom teacher can take to create this agency
[8:04] How to share your experience as a teacher
[9:27] Learning to “sense and respond”
[10:43] Learning as a life process vs a checklist
[11:50] Teaching kindness
[15:22] How parents can help motivate kids
[16:48] Andy’s Magic Wand: Within themselves, students are okay. Educators need to create and maintain learning environments that don’t damage a child’s psyche! How do we help people know they are whole now?
What motivates kids? How can we help them have voices to tell us and choices to make their learning personally relevant and motivating? (That’s agency.)
Sense and respond–listening to what resonates and responding from that place instead of a pre-planned lesson
Can we honestly say our schools help kids know they are whole and don’t damage their psyches?

Links and Resources:

Thanks for listening! Don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Android. If you like what you heard, please leave a review on iTunes and share what you liked about the show.

Latest Episodes

[Human Rights Series] The Right to an Education

We’ve all always known that not everyone has the same access to a quality education. We only need to look in our own communities to see the difference. But travel overseas and you’ll find children living in poverty that we can’t even imagine who don’t have access to...

Addressing Equity Through Adaptive Assessments with Nathan Thompson

Traditional standardized assessments are easy to use because they expect every student to take the exact same test. It’s easy to grade and inexpensive to administer. But these kinds of tests don’t work. They expect mastery at a granular level and don’t account for...

Education as a Human Right with William Tucker

Every human on the planet has a right to an education. And, more importantly, a right to the education that they need and want. In Western culture, that often looks like traditional education…sitting in seats in classrooms and memorizing vocabulary and historical...

Latest Blog Posts

Why Isn’t Educational Change Happening?

School change is so much harder than I thought! When I did my doctoral research on school innovation and created a hands-on learning school-within-a-school in the 90s, I had no idea that I’d spend the next few decades making tiny changes. Changes that often...

Instilling a Practice of Gratitude in Uncertain Times

Thanksgiving looks different this year. Traditions are being shattered in 2020 and new realities are emerging. Thanksgiving is no exception. After Canada’s Thanksgiving in October, COVID statistics jumped, reminding us that, sadly, the pandemic isn’t taking a break...

Building Interdisciplinary Learning into Traditional Classrooms

A traditional classroom setting is just that...traditional. Teachers must teach specific subjects for a required amount of time, often using prescribed curriculum materials that may be a decade old. There’s little consideration for the individual learner--their...


Coming Soon!


Listen to Education Evolution on Apple Podcasts
Listen to Education Evolution on Spotify
Listen to Education Evolution on Stitcher
Listen on Google Play Music

Related Posts

Imagine Seeing the World as One with Rekha Magon

Imagine Seeing the World as One with Rekha Magon

But the reality is that taking kids out of their comfort zones and letting them learn and live in other areas can teach them about kindness, purpose, building relationships, and so much more.

Sign Up for Podcast Announcements
and Get our Free Guide:
Five Interdependent Hacks to Lead the Creation of a Learner-Centered Culture!

By providing your email address you are agreeing to receive email communications from Education Evolution.
You can unsubscribe at any time.