Archive for the ‘Motivating students’ Category

Recognize good performance as well as bad

April 29, 2009 | Assessment, Motivating students | RSS 2.0

In my teaching career, there have been times when I’ve been so focused on correcting poor performance or behavior that I have missed recognizing those who do well.

If you make a minor screw-up in the military, you’ll probably get a counseling statement rather than a formal letter of reprimand.  It’s for things like missing a formation, failing a PT test, etc.  But at PLDC (a.k.a. sergeants’ school) we were taught that you need to counsel good performance as well as bad.  Formally recognizing a job well done encourages more good work in the future.

We need to make sure that we applaud and recognize our kids when they do well, especially for the kids who drive us nuts.  I recall a case of a young lady who regularly drove me nuts in class with her behavior.  She got a B on her end-of-term project, so I called home to let dad know and encourage her to keep it up.  She came in the next day and said “Mr. W – I don’t know what you said to my dad but he gave me the biggest hug after school yesterday…”  It wasn’t a cure all, but it helped let her know that I wasn’t the enemy.

Similarly, if a paper is important enough to grade, it’s important enough to comment on.  For most kids a number grade by itself is not much of a motivating factor; if a kid scores a 75% on a test, give a little message like “let’s work together after school to get an 85 next time!”  In the long run it will have more impact.

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Listen to the little guy

March 23, 2009 | Motivating students | RSS 2.0

“Give me enough ribbon to cover their tunics, and I can conquer the world!”
-Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon had it right – it’s amazing what people will do for you when you recognize their accomplishments.  I’m not saying that medals are the reason that troops serve their country, but recognizing performance is extremely important.  For awhile I was surprised at how much 17-year olds liked seeing a sticker on their paper – but then I remembered how much I enjoyed collecting those stickers on the cover of my graphing calculator back in high school. Be sure to honor your kids in some way when they do great things (academically or personally).  It could be simple things like stickers and high fives.

Don’t forget, however, that no leader says to his troops “If you take out that maching gun nest, I’ll give you a Bronze Star.”  These recognitions have the most impact when they aren’t offered ahead of performance.

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