Literacy Lenses

Focusing on The Literacy Work that Matters

Classroom Management with Heart Facilitating Intrinsic Motivation

By Jenn Hayhurst


On October 6, 2016, #G2Great began an important conversation about classroom management; specifically,  classroom management with a heart. What does this mean?  Teachers who embrace classroom management with a heart believe that the classroom ought to be a place that keeps the whole student at the center of all decision making in an effort to support growth in all its forms. Intellectual, social, and emotional growth happens when students have a sense of identity and are part of a caring community .  

However many teachers are being mandated to implement school-wide initiatives such as: Class Dojo, and Clip Up/Down systems. Often times, these pose unintentional consequences. We begin to find solutions when we open our whole selves up to what is unfolding before our eyes. When we truly see our students for who they are and we can begin to adjust our approach this is what it means to teach with an open heart.

OPEN YOUR HEART  to Relationships and Respect

Positive relationships are built on a foundation of mutual  respect. Forging meaningful relationships with students begins when we open our hearts to what our students value.

OPEN YOUR HEART to Intrinsic Motivation:

Students who believe their work in the classroom matters are students who have a sense of agency. Teachers who are flexible in their approach understand that learning is an invitation.  We cannot foist learning upon students, but rather we draw it out. When we open our hearts to intrinsic motivation we value  what and how a student thinks and feels.  

OPEN YOUR HEART to an Authentic Vision:

Creating the kind of classroom that reflects who you are as a teacher requires personal vision.  Promoting responsibility, kindness, and empathy happen when we model those traits for our students. Classroom rules become relevant when our actions support our words. Our behaviors encourage students to grow into our high expectations.

OPEN YOUR HEART to Creating Community:

A student’s world grows incrementally over time. When they enter school their worlds open up a little wider. What kind of classroom community will you create? Let’s make a promise to nurture and inspire students so they will take risks and grow into  self confident learners.  Responsive teachers build communities that are consistent, caring, and maintain high expectations for students and teachers alike.

Teaching with heart is not about knowing a quick catch phrase or following a lock step sequence of steps to “deal with” unwanted behaviors. It’s about being present in the moment and responding to student needs keeping dignity and respect at the forefront.  It’s about being flexible and forgiving with students as well as with yourself.  


We are so fortunate to have a robust PLN that can keep us informed and help us to think deeply about this topic. Here are some great resources so we can read more widely and keep the conversation going:

Pernille Ripp: Let’s Discuss Class Dojo for a Moment: Pernille Ripp

Kristi Mraz: Some Thoughts on Clip Charts

Kimberly Davis: A Mountain of Motivation:

Rita Platt: Positive Phone Calls to Parents is Like Money in the Bank!

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Justin Dolci Padlet

Column by Wendy Thomas Russell Hey teachers, please stop using behavior charts. Here’s why