Sunday, March 9, 2014

Showing Students We Notice...

OK--I'm not going to lie.  I have an "interesting" group this year.  I'm not going to say more than that--just "interesting".  With all the pressures to get students to perform, to make accelerated growth, to close the gap--you name it--it becomes very easy to operate in a deficit model system.  What CAN'T they do yet?  What did they get WRONG so I can 
try to fix it?

I started to notice how this was wearing on me and I wasn't quite feeling like myself.  I think it took having my student teacher teach more so I could sit back and watch from the outside, and what I realized is that I need to spend more minutes helping students recognize what they are doing well...if they lose hope, I'll NEVER be able to catch them up!

I made a conscious decision this week to start doing more of that--and not just verbal praise (although specific, authentic verbal praise is certainly appropriate!).  It started when a small group of students were working with another teacher in my room and she told me that they worked harder on a task than they had ever worked.  I was shocked; this is a VERY reluctant group of writers!  I ran over the computer and quickly made a little "I worked my hardest today" certificate, printed 4 to a page, and personally delivered them to the students in this group telling them how proud I was of them.  Guess what?  The next day, one student told me his mom hung it on the fridge.  Another one's dad took him for a Shamrock shake (jealous?), and the other 2 said they showed it to their parents and their parents were very proud of them.  IT TOOK ME 60 SECONDS!

Then Thursday our music teacher pulled me aside to tell me about what a change she has noticed in one of my students over the last few months...and she was going to call home about it. (We have an A-MAZE-ING music teacher!).  I wanted to make sure the message got through to the student so I zipped back upstairs and quickly wrote him a note on a piece of fun notebook paper.  I wanted him to see it but not flashed in front of the world, so...

I went over to his desk...

....taped the note to the inside of the desktop

...and when he opened the desk, look what he saw!

I had SO much fun watching his face when he opened his desk!  Anyhoo...it was a really good reminder to me to step out of the deficit model and to start to do more to recognize the good.  I would LOVE to hear some ways that all of you help nurture the "spirit" of your students...maybe all of us can try a few new things this week to show our students that we notice all they are doing well.  Share your ideas below in the comments today!
By the way...today is the last day of my giveaway!  Don't forget to enter for a chance to win!  Click HERE to get back to the original post about it and the rafflecopter.  Thanks again for all your support!


Have a great rest of your weekend--and don't forget to share your ideas below!

12 comments:

  1. I JUST did TWO blog posts about this! We must be on the same page! I also teach 4th grade! Check out these two posts (with FREEBIES to help you continue!) I found you on Twitter! Thanks for your honesty I have been feeling the same way!
    Michelle

    Blog Post: Lucky Letters
    Blog Post: Little Letters

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Michelle! Your little notes make it so easy! :)

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  2. Great post! I often write notes to students with whiteboard markers on their desks. I try to do a few students and ay and keep a record of who I do so that all students get notes. They love it!

    What I Have Learned

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    1. Great idea...I haven't tried that one! I'll bet they DO love it!

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  3. Hi...I think that this is so important, even we as teachers need some positive feedback because it does make us want to keep going and improving when someone else notices our hard efforts!
    doodling Around with 6th

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    1. Isn't THAT the truth? Maybe we should do the same things for our fellow teachers!

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  4. I sent emails home to parents whose children were working extra hard. They were so happy. I need to do it again. I like your idea of a note to them, a sweet surprise.

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    1. Email makes it SO easy, doesn't it? Thanks so much for chiming in!

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  5. Bless you for reminding us all how easy it really is to boost up our little ones

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    1. We never know when one little comment can make a big difference, right?

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  6. That's great, Meg. :) I actually really like my group of kids; they're one of my all time favorites, and yet I feel like this is one of the hardest years ever. All due to pressure "from above" with less support. As a result I've also been feeling like I've been so focused on what they can't do. I have weekly certificates I give for one specific skill, but you've got me thinking about mixing it up more. Giving different, unexpected acknowledgements for perseverance may be just what my group needs at this point. Thanks for this reminder. :)

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  7. I love these ideas. I bought these cute little sticky notes at Walmart that look like iPhones and I love writing my kids notes on them. Sometimes a positive note like you mentioned, and sometimes if I know I will be gone, I will write a personalized note to each kid about what I expect from them and how they specifically will be a wonderful help to the sub. The kids' faces light up when they get the notes and they always want to keep them in their desk or cubby.

    I understand what you mean about feeling too negative and not feeling like "you." We have started doing PAT time to reward the kids making good choices (I have an "interesting" class this year as well) and other teachers wanted me to take away minutes throughout the week. I tried it but it judt created such a negative atmosphere in our room! It felt so unlike me to do. I switched it to kids earning minutes and it has made such a difference. Thanks for all the positive ideas!

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