Gordon's School & Motivational Maps

By Gemma Aukett, Thinking School Lead and House Parent, Gordon’s School

Throughout my time working in education, I have developed an interest in the brain, cognition and metacognition. This is partly due to personal experience but also my genuine desire to see my students achieve their full academic and personal potential.

In my previous role as a Head of Arts Faculty and Thinking Schools Lead, my work had always been predominantly focused on curriculum and academic achievement, however I always appreciated the importance of understanding the ‘whole student’ to be able to engage, enthuse and effectively support.

In 2018, I took on a new role and became a House Parent at Gordon’s School alongside my husband. My main focus now is the pastoral care of our girls and their personal development, we also fully support them as they navigate their way on their academic journey. In addition to my House Parent duties, I am now the Thinking Schools Lead at Gordon’s and am excited about the possibilities of exploring these skills both within a curriculum and pastoral context. We see the girls from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to bed – an extension of the usual school day that can be used to introduce new ideas but also support the positive work taking place during class curriculum time.

I am extremely interested in how we can further develop and promote metacognitive and thinking skills within a pastoral setting and have been exploring ways that we can do this. My exploration led me to a meeting with Charlotte Wheeler who leads Motivation Matters, a division of Thinking Matters. Charlotte suggested and supported us in the use of a metacognitive tool, Motivational Maps, to offer us the ‘whole child’ insights we were looking for.

The Motivational Maps generate a report, the data from which can be used to inform approach and adapt practice according to the needs of our students. The report is generated following a self-perception questionnaire completed by the individual and gives an insight into how students are intrinsically motivated, how strong their motivational needs are, to what extent their needs are being met and how to fulfil their true potential with relevant goal-setting. The approach is student centred and allows us to continue to embrace student wellbeing at the heart of our pedagogy.

Boarders at Windsor House, Gordon’s School

We decided to trial the maps with our current Year 7 residential boarders to assist with their transition to the Senior Houses in Year 8; we are aware of the importance of an effective induction process that considers the individual needs of each student. Following the completion of the questionnaires, our reports were generated.

As discussed in the report, Motivators are in groups of three clusters – achievement, relationships and growth. Within these three clusters you will find three types of motivators that are explained throughout the report. The report does not only focus on the individuals but also the group; for example, the report identifies the dominant group cluster, the group top three motivators and the group lowest motivator. For all of this information, strategies are suggested regarding how to work effectively with this specific group of students.

Example of a personal report

A group Change Index Score is included that gives a sense of how receptive to change the group will be. There is also a personal report for each student, identifying their top three motivators, their lowest motivator and their satisfaction level for their top three motivators.

The report looks at compatibility of each motivator and which motivators, when brought together, might cause some tension. We have been able to use all of this data to consider where to place students in their new dorms, taking another step to ensuring their wellbeing and happiness. We will also use this data to plan for next year – for example, we will organise activities that fuel motivators and will use the data as a foundation for meaningful discussions.

I am excited to continue to see how we can utilise this data effectively in our boarding houses and look forward to seeing the positive impact as we progress on this journey.

Gemma Aukett
Thinking Lead and House Parent
Gordon’s School

Find out more about Motivational Maps. Discover how they provide staff and pupils fascinating insights into their motivators and current levels of motivation and how this in turn, can increase engagement, productivity and outcomes.

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