small wins - dctl
What motivates you at work? Pay, nice colleagues, coffee?


Maybe the answer is simpler than you think.


Teresa M. Amabile and Steven J. Kramer emphasize the importance of ‘Small Wins’ towards a clearly defined goal in their article ‘The Power of Small Wins‘.


And the sense of progress towards that goal is what drives motivation.


So what we should be doing in the classroom is getting learners to set their own learning goals.


Do you do that? (My answer: no, not always…)

Uber-busy teachers can download the full lesson plan here. Small-Wins.pdf (128 downloads)




1. Write ‘Small Wins’ on the whiteboard. Explain that this means small steps towards a goal. You can draw a dartboard with small arrows heading towards the bullseye to illustrate this.


2. In pairs, learners should brainstorm ‘Small Wins’ for the upcoming week.  These should be specific and realistic and should fit in with their daily lives. Give clear examples such as listening to songs while jogging, or learning 20 new words.


3. Learners should choose 2 or 3 ‘Small Wins’ they want to accomplish that week.


Follow up – 1 week later


4. The following week learners speak to each other about their ‘Small Wins’.
5. Learners feedback in open class. Ask learners:
Did you find it difficult to achieve your ‘Small Wins’ this week? Why was that?
Are there any other ways you can try to achieve your goals?
Do you have any advice for each other?

Encourage learners to speak openly and learn from each other.


6. Set new ‘Small Wins’ for the following week.

7. Repeat every week .

8. Every month get learners to reflect on their ‘Small wins’ for that month.


Optional stages for Business English learners


1. Draw a two column table on the whiteboard. Write ‘Managers’ in one column and ‘Workers’ in the other. Ask the learners:


There was some research done on Motivation. They researched two groups – Managers and Workers, and wanted to know the answer to the question ‘What motivates people at work?’.

What do you think the managers said?


2. Write responses on the whiteboard in the ‘Managers’ column.


3. Ask:


What do you think the workers said?

4. Elicit responses. Answer:


They said that small steps towards a goal provided the most motivation- ‘Small Wins’.

5. Go to stage 2 of the above plan. If Advanced Learners want to read the article – then give them the link or reference.


I hope that you found this lesson plan useful. Please feel free to comment and tell me how this lesson went with your learners.


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Win. Crystian Cruz on flickr. CC license 2.0.



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