Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Return of the Star Awards

Thought of the Day: Positive Reinforcement

I've been trying to have my classes work without positive reinforcement all year. I realize now that this was a gigantically stupid idea. Most of my students don't have any form of positive reinforcement anywhere in their lives. They need it so much. They need to have a physical and visual way to "see" how well they are doing in my classes.

For students in other districts, their grades are positive reinforcement. When they do well, they will have good grades and they will get praise. Here, where most of my students have this eternal sense of "it doesn't matter - I will fail," they need some positive reinforcement. For students that don't get a lot of positivity in their lives, this is a way for them to stay happy. It has made a HUGE difference in my classes.

I have no idea what I was thinking. Apparently, I wasn't. I need to have my students get on board with what I'm trying to do before I try and do it. That is goal #1. Relevancy helps. Clear goals help. Accurate assessing of knowledge helps. However, without students being on board with what I'm trying to do, I won't get to the learning part.

I just can't believe how well my students are coming on board for a few paper stars...

Also, I started this because I had a spontaneous observation from my boss - the academic dean. That was really nerve wracking but the stars helped. Whoo hoo.

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