I wanted to keep my blogging to a minimal this week- as I am promoting my son's Cyber Campaign "Jump Rope for Heart" to raise money for children with heart problems. So far, all of you have helped him raise $245.00!!! That is over 20% of his overall goal of $1000.00!! I know we can reach the goal!! I only need about 38 moRe PeEpS to donate $20.00! Remember, you get to choose from two of my popular clip art bundles for FREE when you make a $20.00 donation! I know that so many of you who have donated are not donating only to get a freebie, but please just think of it as my blessing to you for helping to raise money for such an important cause!!
Thank you so much for your efforts and support!! Please visit my last post for details "It Takes Heart to be a Hero" I know that the finances are not always there to give, but you can still make a difference by spreading the word wherever you can. Thank you again!!
Now, onto the point of this blog post..haha
I was recently organizing my files when I stumbled upon my research and work I did while I was working on my Masters degree. The files got me thinking about something I experienced while student teaching (yes! I had to complete student teaching hours for my Masters Degree, even though I had already been teaching Kinder for 4 years prior...ho hum).
Any-Who... while student teaching in a 7th grade classroom, my mentor was beginning to teach expository text structures to the students. I was really excited, because I LOVE teaching reading and writing (which does not make me a grammar glam people...I am more of a grammar gloom..ishy haha). I spent HOURS working on lessons, getting graphic organizers made and putting together some fun activities to help students understand expository text structures. I came in early on that Monday and my mentor was NOT happy with anything I had planned. I think that one requirement for being a mentor is to be as discouraging as humanly possible...it seemed to be a trend.
Don't get me wrong! They were all really nice to me and completely accepted me into their team; however, it had nothing to do with my lessons not being wonderful...of course not..haha.. It was just the plain fact that I was in HER classroom and SHE was responsible for what those students were learning. I completely understood, but I was still sad (honestly, my lessons were way better)..hahah... So, she (we) sat down and we (she) created lessons to teach expository text structures to her classes. I embraced it even though it was so completely boring. Her teaching style was no where near mine, but I did learn a great deal from her! She wasn't a bad teacher...in fact, far from it...she was just more rigid (sort of like I was my first year teaching..hahaha). How quickly we learn to choose our battles, right? She also did not have any children of her own, which does make a difference in what she expected from her students. I have ALWAYS had high expectations, but there is a level of love, compassion and discernment that can only be learned through while raising children.
Please do NOT take this as though I am implying that teachers who have their own children are better at their jobs....THAT IS DEFINITELY NOT always the case..haha Moving on...
Well, she put together two weeks of the same lesson every single day. We reviewed a piece of text, had students talk to the text, and discussed the text. The students would identify the text structure and break down the elements and parts in the first lesson for each text structure and then, write their own version the next day. It was redundant and boring. Despite the mundane routine and lame discussions, the students really put in a lot of hours and hard work into their project.
We had them make a giant flap book to keep their work samples in. The second week of lessons, my mentor had jury duty (WOO HOO..secretly on the inside of my head of course) and I was able to take over while an adviser for the district sat in for that week. I was able to get a little more creative and show the kids a little more of "me" while we finished up the unit on expository text structures. The adviser was VERY impressed and told me that she loved that she could get to work quietly in the back of the room on various projects and not have to worry about my performance or how I handled the kids (which made me feel human again). I can't say that I would make a good mentor myself...as I am very particular when it comes to my own classroom...watch out!! haha
The students worked so hard and spent so much time drawing and writing meaningful pieces for their projects. When it came time to grade them, my mentor split up the stack and told me to count sentences for grades. I could tell that the time I was in her classroom was more about busy work to get through it than anything else. I guess she figured she could adjust things once I was gone. To be honest, I was not really that motivated to craft up my own ideas because I was going to be leaving as well..haha We understood each other quite well indeed..tehehe..
We logged in the grades and when we were finished, I helped her stack all of the finished projects nicely in piles; organized by class. She picked them up and threw them in the garbage before we locked up!!!!!
I couldn't believe it! I realized that the lessons were just created to get through the whole mentoring experience, but the students had worked so hard on them. I didn't say anything - it was not my place to do so, but I can freely discuss my feelings now. I am not saying that you should keep every single thing your students complete...that would be impossible! But do keep large projects and things they spent a great deal of time completing...it shows them that you value their hard work.
I believe that if we (as teachers, and parents) value students hard work, then they will be more motivated to work harder. I can't even imagine what message throwing all of their work away, sent to her students the following day. Many of them were bummed out to see their work in the trash, but what could I possibly say??
I know that when I work really hard at something, how someone values my work makes a huge difference in my attitude while I am doing it! We really need to value students' work by making a point to praise their hard work and determination.
While teaching Kindergarten, I promoted and encouraged motivation by making a point to challenge students to do their very best - no matter what they were working on. I also made sure that their work was recognized. Too many students depend on the teacher to evaluate "their best" or they compare themselves to other students in the class. I always told my students that they were NOT allowed to turn in ANYTHING that they were not proud of...and let me tell you...this took a load of pressure off of me and placed the responsibility onto the students. Those who struggled, did not have to meet unattainable standards, but they did have to say that what they were giving me was their very best & no matter what I thought, I was determined to accept it and honor it. Over time, students work more diligently and are self motivated to to better,because their progress is compared to their previous work and NOT my opinion or other students' work.
If you are struggling with how to get your students motivated, then I have a little technique for you...
Before class, designate a special spot on the whiteboard (low enough for students to comfortably reach) and draw something cute. I often drew an animal or something that went along with the theme we were working on. Make sure that there is space inside the drawing....this is important.
If you refuse to show off your artsy side, then you can print out an image or shape, laminate it, and re-use it to save time.
Here are some ways to implement my "Stride with Pride" technique!! If My Kindergarten students mastered this, then this can be implemented at any grade level (with some tweaking here and there)...
When students are finished with seat-work, ask them if they are certain that what they are showing you is their very best.
1. Are you proud of the work you are turning in to me. Nothing is worth doing unless you give it your very best.
2. Don't even give me a peak of your work if it is not your best. If you need to check, then take a few extra minutes to improve your work before you hand it to me.
If they tell you that the work they are turning in to you is their very best, have them had you their work. Allow them to point out something they are proud of and then tell them they can write their name inside the image drawn on the board.
I know many of you are probably thinking that there is NO way in heaven or hell that you would have time to do this with each student, but I challenge you to try. It only takes a few seconds per student and I promise that having them write their name inside something happy on the board will boost their confidence and their motivation to improve their own work.
You will need to take some time to introduce what you are doing and your expectations before you begin seat-work. Students should be able to quietly write their name or initial and go back to their seat without causing a scene. I always took some time to practice this. I would show them my expectations by picking up the marker and writing my own name and going to my own desk. I would then allow a couple of students to "practice" the behavior. After a couple of days, students will get the hang of it. Plan a reasonable consequence for those who are not following the rules; however, keep in mind that if you have them erase their name, you will be shaming them and they will no longer view it as a reward or something to be proud of. Please choose your consequences wisely. Just because the student might be noisy or disrupt another student, does not take away the fact that they worked hard and turned in their very best. Once a student is shamed, it is very difficult to build them back up again without a battle. Sometimes, all it takes is a "LOOK" from you. You all know the look I am talking about...hahaha
Other times, it takes peer encouragement. I always encouraged my students to help one another do their very best by being a good example and helping one another. This will also eliminate a great deal of tattling. Treat students as you want them to treat one another... it never fails!!
I would love for your to leave your input and stories in a comment below! We can learn a great deal from one another!!
For those that would like to try the "Stride with Pride" technique (tehehee), here are some free graphics that you can print and use on your boards... These are February themed (-;
You can enlarge these images, print on colored paper, laminate it and re-use this on your boards for the month of February (-; No colored ink required!! Woo HOO!!
And here is a colored one. I offered this one for free last year as well, but it is so cute that I can re-gift it again this year..haha Plus, I don't think I had nearly as many followers..tehehe
Thank you for visiting, sharing, commenting, pinning & just for being YOU!! Remember, this Friday is Friday FIVE...please feel free to link up!!