September has always been a time of excitement and anticipation for me.  As a child I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait to start the school year, eagerly anticipating seeing school friends, meeting my new teacher and delving into new learning opportunities.  Those feelings had a lot to do with my decision to go into education as a young adult.  After these many (many!) years, I still feel that excitement as the start of a new school year approaches.

This started me thinking about what motivates people in their work and, in particular, what motivates so many of us in education.  I was watching a Ted Talk by Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, in which he talks about the large body of research that consistently demonstrates that what drives us to perform at our best every day is not monetary rewards or benefits.  Instead he identifies three factors that motivate the highest level of performance (which, in the RSE-TASC tradition of Starting with the Why, I list in reverse order here):

  1. Purpose: the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves
  2. Mastery: the desire to get better and better at something that matters
  3. Autonomy: the urge to direct our own lives

I imagine the majority of us recognize the first factor, a desire to be part of something larger than ourselves, as what attracted us to the field of education and what has kept us here, even in the face of many challenges.  To quote George Lucas:

“To me, there is nothing more exciting, fulfilling, and wonderful than watching a kid finally grasp a concept, then take the information and use it in the real world…” Teachers [Educators] make this happen. (Retrieved from: https://www.edutopia.org/blog/why-teaching-matters-george-lucas)

Here at the RSE-TASC we see the second factor at work every day.  Educators in this region continually seek out opportunities to improve their mastery of the critical skills required for including, and ensuring the success of, every student in their school and district. This is evident in the quality of the dialogue at our workshops about supports for students with disabilities, and in the degree to which participants follow up in implementing new practices (see the survey results on page 4) and share their successes and challenges in regional networking meetings.  Through these learning communities we not only improve our practice, but we achieve autonomy — we are directing our professional lives in a way that ensures that what we do matters.

So we are excited to be starting the 2017-2018 school year with a wealth of opportunities to continue these collaborative efforts at getting better and better!  See page 3 for our current line-up of fall regional trainings, and check our training calendar at (http://rsetasc.pnwboces.org/events/list/) for updates as we add to this list.  Share the RSE-TASC newsletter articles with your colleagues (http://rsetasc.pnwboces.org/resources/rse-tasc-reporter-articles/) and let us know what you think about the evidence-based practices we discuss in these pages.  Watch for upcoming issues — our October newsletter will feature an article on the hot topic of Mindfulness by Martha Trujillo-Torp, Yonkers Special Education School Improvement Specialist.  Please keep sharing your Bright Spots with us so we can see the impact your work is having on students outcomes (http://rsetasc.pnwboces.org/resources/bright-spots/).

Most of all, don’t forget to enjoy this year and why we do what we do — there are students eagerly waiting to explore the world with you!