Motivation: A propensity to pursue projects with persistence.

Whenever I get close to the end of something, I always start asking the question: What is next?

It’s not that I don’t finish what I’ve started, it’s more that I always want to plan ahead a bit. What I’m warning you, gentle reader, is that at the halfway mark of our exploration of emotional intelligence, my mind started to wander just a bit. With a new strategic plan in the works, I thought that a moment of reflection on what motivated me to teach mathematics in the first place, and then on what motivates me at Victoria College, might be in order.

I also thought it might be time to share some motivation, because apparently the ”blah” feelings I always have about this time of term are actually normal, as my good colleague Dr Deb Butler writes about so well.

I’ve written in other posts why I think student success is so vital to our world, so I’ll say no more here. Logical reasons might make some difference, but those are have-to reasons, not want-to.

I’m told by a psychiatric friend that people tend to take mementos of great deeds. Humans like to hoard, apparently. I’ve visited quite a few offices now, over my years here at VC. I think, if I had to guess, that I could probably spot some of these trophies. Take a moment to look at your trophies now. What do they tell you about your motivation? What do they tell you about your want-tos?

I have to admit, I’m just a bit worried about my trophies. They all come from students, although I’m not quite sure what lessons my students learned from me that led them to select these as gifts…

Trophies in pride of place in my office.
Trophies in pride of place in my office.

Of course, the best gift my students give me is when they complete their dreams. That can mean walking the stage at graduation, getting that promotion at work, completing a class, or some combination of all three and more.

I attended our KEY Center’s celebration event a few weeks back. It was really awesome to witness their motivation. Their trophies that day were clear, although now, if you walked in there today, they might be just a little harder to spot. All the same, I think I still see their trophies. Their motivation looks a lot like students, giving speeches, saying: “I wanted to be smart…I wasn’t sure I was…their encouragement [was] everything.”

Do you have trophies? Are they things or a bit more metaphysical? Share your motivation or trophies in the replies below!



Matt Wiley is a tenured, associate professor of mathematics with awards in both mathematics education and honour student engagement. He earned an assortment of degrees in computer science, business, and pure mathematics from the University of California and Texas A&M systems. He is the director of quality enhancement at Victoria College, assisting in the development and implementation of a comprehensive assessment program to enhance institutional performance outcomes. A programmer, a published author, a mathematician, and a transformational leader, Matt has always melded his passion for writing with his joy of logical problem solving and data science. From the boardroom to the classroom, he enjoys finding dynamic ways to partner with interdisciplinary and diverse teams to make complex ideas and projects understandable and solvable.


  1. Oh man, I am SO JEALOUS of your LotR Pez collection. The hobbit-sized ones, aaah!

    This is a great lens for looking at motivation. Thank you for making me stop to observe my surroundings and parse them!

    Looking around my office, my trophies tend to be props or pieces of activities that I’ve made for a program and then kept afterwards. I have a little cardstock Alamo from a general-Texas-history day; a little French colonist from a build-a-fort engineering challenge that I presented at a STEM teaching conference; and two beeswax candles from a household-history day. I think that shows that I value creativity and coming up with new ways to share information in an interactive fashion. Plus, I’m just a hoarder.

    Oh, and I also have CAPE dogtags. 🙂


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