chapter  15
Concluding Commentary: Understanding Teacher Motivation: What Is Known and What More There Is to Learn
ByTim Urdan
Pages 20

In one of my fi rst experiences conducting classroom research I observed a high school literature teacher in Boston. She was an experienced teacher who was trying to implement an innovative approach to analyze Holden Caulfi eld, the protagonist in The Catcher in the Rye, using Erickson’s psychosocial stages of development. The teacher asked me to observe several class sessions and take note of how engaged the students appeared. I noticed that almost all of the students seemed unengaged in the discussion, with one student regularly walking over to the window and peering out at the students in the courtyard two stories below. But one student, a boy sitting in the front row, was highly engaged in the material and the discussion every time I observed. As each class session progressed, the teacher directed more and more of her attention on this one student, until by the end of each class session, the teacher and this student were engaged in a one-on-one discussion. Their interactions were rich and animated and on-topic, but he was the only student that appeared captivated by the lesson. After each class session, I interviewed the teacher to gain her perceptions of how the lesson went. Without fail, she told me she was very pleased with the lesson and with the high level engagement of her students. At the conclusion of the study, when I told her that in my observations I noticed she was interacting almost exclusively with a single student while all of the other students were distracted and off-task, she was dumbfounded. She had not noticed.