The Motivation Secret

The Motivation Secret

Now, here’s the motivational secret I spoke about earlier. In a prison setting, concrete rewards are really not allowed. But I have learned rewards and punishment can lessen the chance of self-motivation, and appreciation of learning is its own reward!
Setting goals and having control over them is an alternative to using rewards! It increases the student’s self-motivation. If a classroom offers choices in learning that demonstrate mutual respect, it is a supportive learning environment for the students, and they are more likely to self-motivate. In the long range scheme of things, isn’t that what we ultimately want for our students? Ironically, in an environment where I can offer little or no rewards, my students can learn to motivate themselves which is inherently a much more desired trait than reacting to any outside rewards or punishments.
To further support the success of my students, I help them develop planning calendars, set goals for their work, and establish criteria for quality. They learn to pick dates for goals and monitor their progress along the way. And then, together, we make changes in their plans whenever it is deemed necessary. We tweak and discuss their plan whenever we meet. There are certain things they know they must do. There is no option as to what they have to learn, but there may be options as to how they learn it.
We practice the art of mastery learning. Sometimes my students have a little difficulty with grading their own work, because in their mind they think it is cheating. So, I take time and explain there is another way to learn.  When they have completed a couple of questions, if they are not sure, they can look them up, stop before they make a lot of mistakes, and fix them before they go any further. Then, they can use me as a resource if they don’t understand what they are doing wrong.
It does take patience and some time, but the system is all in place. I have tutors who set up a lot of this for the students in advance, because we know when they are coming in as new class members.
If doing all of this produces more GED graduates at a quicker pace, then I have accomplished my goal. The bonus is it helps to self-motivate. I don’t have to worry so much about always pumping them up and telling them how great they are. Don’t get me wrong.  I compliment them as much as possible.  I have a personal goal to say something nice to each student at least once a day. There is great value in that. But I can’t give them M&M’s, or a little cookie, or a free pencil, or any kind of concrete reward. So, my system is a more practical and effective replacement.
Janice M. Chamberlin, a licensed prison educator in Indiana, is the author of Locked Up With Success. In her book, Ms. Chamberlin shares stories not only of the challenges she has faced, but also the triumphs she has seen in the prison classroom setting. She has successfully developed a system that can unlock potential even in the highest risk students.

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  1. Heather Heaton's new ebook ("Her Letters from Prison") is an inspirational resource for reading pleasure, review, contemplation, and discussion.

    Heather's own testimony: "God changed my life in prison!"

    "Her Letters from Prison" will validate your inquisitive thoughts and doubts about what goes on in women’s prisons (It is what it is!); it can justify the efforts spent toward women’s prison ministries; and it can be a motivational (tell-it-like-it-is) resource for drug rehab/prevention and reentry programs.

    "Her Letters from Prison" is non-fiction, inspirational, prison romance; and the original letters (with prison art) are included as images for authenticity.

    You can go to , click on a direct link to the Smashwords "book pages" for “Her Letters from Prison”, Parts 1 and 2. Additional direct links to the book pages are provided at the end of this review.

    "Her Letters from Prison" was published in two parts due to the file storage limitations imposed by the Smashwords automated publishing process. Each of the two parts contain approximately 80+ pages – images of the original letters and prison art.

    If you don’t happen to own a Kindle, Nook, Fire, Sony, iPhone/iPad, or some other eReader device, then download the FREE Adobe Digital Editions software to your computer to read the “epub” version of the ebooks. Multiple eReader versions of the ebooks are available on Smashwords.

    The author, Heather Heaton, is a 34 year old college student trying to better her life, in spite of the baggage she carries from her previous life. During 2012, Heather will graduate from Jefferson State College in Birmingham, Alabama with an Associate Degree in Business. After graduation from Jeff State, Heather plans to enroll in the Southeastern Bible College and pursue a program in "Youth Ministry".

    A brief description of the ebook follows:
    1. Breanna tells the true story of her experiences in prison through her letters to her friend Heath. This is a story of survival and a quest to make a better life. The letters describe the shocking daily events of prison life involving drugs, sex, utter devastation and humiliation, anger, hopelessness, despair, and finally happiness and hope.

    2. Breanna was condemned to prison by her narcissistic lover; and a new, positive prison romance began to blossom.

    3. Breanna's "truth" stands still even as the world around her trembles and burns! Bad things do happen to good people; and Breanna is the perfect example of this truth.

    4. Breanna's inner strengths and principles eventually win out over the corruption and evil that surrounds her. With God's help, Breanna survives the horrible experiences of prison life and regains her self-confidence and hope for a better life.

    5. "Breanna" was an inmate at Tutwiler Women's Prison (Alabama) during the period 2007 to 2009. Breanna spent approximately three years in the Alabama prison system.

    6. "Breanna" benefitted from women's prison ministries and the LIFE Tech-Wetumpka state-funded self-help program. Breanna was blessed with a life-changing experience.
    The Introduction page of the ebook follows:

    The story you are about to read is true. Unfortunately, it’s my story; and the truth is often much more intriguing than fiction. I have had to deal with this story (this situation) for more than the past ten years. I started living out this story with all the hopes and dreams of most (if not all) young American girls; and I will finish this story by realizing most of those hopes and dreams, even though they have been interrupted for a time (in prison) that seems like time and time again. Through it all, I have managed to learn some life lessons that I hope to give to you; and I am hoping that you can pick up on these lessons earlier in life than I have done. I should have learned these lessons long ago. If I had learned these lessons long ago, I assure you that I would not have written the material you are now reading. My hope is that nobody else has to endure what I have endured learning life lessons that should be given to youngsters and adolescents early in life by the ones who truly love them. But here again, there are probably other youngsters and adolescents, much like me, who will have to learn these life lessons painfully for themselves, the hard way – by experiencing them first hand. Well, if you continue to read my story, here’s what you will experience – drugs, sex, violence, prison, utter devastation/humiliation, anger, hopelessness, despair, and finally happiness and hope!

    If you don’t take me seriously and you follow in my path, you are going to experience false hope and disillusionment! You are going to experience broken trusts, by those whom you trusted most! You are going to experience pain and agony that brings you to the brink of self-destruction! You will lose your freedom! You will lose the right to think for yourself and to make your own decisions! You will lose your sense of self-worth and self-dignity! You are going to lose your ability to support yourself! You are going to lose your self-confidence! You are going to be victimized; and you can do little to avoid this! You will struggle and struggle and struggle just to get yourself back onto an even keel! But if you can ever manage to muster a tremendous mountain of stubbornness and determination, and if you can begin to think better of yourself, you will be able to recover most, but not all, of your ability to manage your own affairs while regaining some of your self-confidence and feeling of self-worth. I am just about to accomplish this in my life! Being just about able to accomplish this in my life is what has led me to (it has allowed me to) share my story with you. At first, I didn’t think I could ever share my story with anyone. But, I really don’t want you to actually share (live through) my experiences, even if you think you can handle it. Just read this story and do something positive in your own life.

    Note: All names have been changed to protect each individual's privacy.

    This work is dedicated to Valrise Bendolf (Clay County Dept. of Corrections Holding Facility), Jackie Ratliff (Kilby – Montgomery Womens’ Facility), Fawn Romie/Mr. Roberts/Gary Parsons (Life Tech) and all of Mr. Robert’s little roses that he so diligently cultivated. For all their good works, these people saved my life!

    I hope that you find this ebook both interesting and helpful.

    Heather Heaton


    Customer/Reader Review of “Her Letters from Prison”
    Heather, ever since you first contacted me about your ebooks (and when I received them) I have been giving them traction. At least two women on my case load checked them out, (like a library card so I would get them back) and were very moved by the content. I haven’t had another problem with their behavior since they read them. So…I know they are working. They should be required reading, ordered by a Judge before women are sentenced to probation, so that they would fully understand the consequences of their behavior. The coverage by The Prison Art Coalition blog is very good news both for Heather and for those that will read her story.

    They (“Her Letters from Prison: Parts 1 & 2) should be used as text books for the next Life Tech facility for Women!!! I wish I had some pull for money to build a better one. I pray for it.

    Gary Parsons
    Parole Officer
    State of Alabama – Board of
    Pardons & Parole

    You can find Heather's ebook(s) by clicking (Ctrl-click) on any of the following links:
    1. Smashwords
    2. Indie Books
    3. Kobo
    4. Barnes & Nobel
    5. Diesel eBook Store (“Her Letters from Prison: Part 1 & Part 2)
    6. Reader Store (“Her Letters from Prison: Part 1 & Part 2)
    7. InkMesh
    8. PDB Ebooks (book sample)
    9. ITunes

    Heather's ebooks are available for the following eReaders (mobi, epub, and pdf formats):
    1. PC (Adobe Digital Editions)
    2. Mac
    3. iPhone/iPad
    4. Kindle
    5. Nook
    6. Fire
    7. Sony
    8. Others

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