Okay, I'm a little late with this week's Teacher Tip, but I swear it's not my fault. I had a great plan, but uploading my videos to YouTube wasn't working right.... so I'll save that post for another day.
So, instead, I want to talk about something that's really been on my mind recently.
In my current school, more than any other school I've ever seen, the students who are negatively impacting the classroom really monopolize the attention of teachers, administrators, and peers. I'm not talking about the ones who refuse to work or sleep through class. No, I'm talking about the ones who "flash out" (another term I learned from my kiddos) on each other or their teachers. I'm talking about the ones who are constantly distracting others with constant talking, inappropriate noises, disruptive chair manners, etc.
Have I had these kids in the past? Of course.
But never in the past has it seemed that this is the status quo versus the exception. I shared with one of my classes today that until I came here, I had never (not as a student or a teacher) seen a student "flash out" on a teacher in class. In my previous teaching experience, disrespect meant the kid rolled his eyes. Ha! If only I had known!
Anyway, because these students are so disruptive, we have all sorts of tools in place to help them. We have a mentor program and behavior trackers that allow these students to earn rewards just for improving their behavior (even if it's still not up to par with our overall expectations). And, of course, these kids get more of my time and energy, mostly because they just demand it.
Obviously, I'm not here to argue that this is a bad thing. Clearly, these students need extra attention, and we want to acknowledge their successes.
But what about the good kids?
They seem to be so few and far between these days, but I do have kids that never cause problems, behaviorally or academically. I have one student who has not received a single deduction on his paycheck all year. And what have we done to reward him?
We use our school-wide PBIS system, of course, to reward our kiddos for keeping their $80 paycheck averages. But these rewards have quickly lost their power. You can only eat a kids box at Raising Cane's so often, you know? For my kids that have consistently earned these rewards, they have actually stopped claiming them (they have to get a parent signature on their paychecks) because they simply don't need the incentive to do well.
But still... I don't like the idea that I go above and beyond for my students who make poor choices but settle for the school-wide system for my students who make the best performances.
Today, I pulled aside my top performing student. He doesn't always have the very highest grade in class, but he's consistently in the top 10%. He is a leader in my classroom, always encouraging his peers to do their best. He has the best manners I've ever seen on any student... ever.
I told this boy that he and I are going to go out to celebrate.
"Celebrate what?" he wanted to know.
"To celebrate you! To celebrate how you've proven all year long to be a student with integrity and diligence. To celebrate how you bring a positive attitude to my classroom every day," I told him.
And you should have seen his face light up. He gets shout outs all the time, but I really think this is the first time he's really being praised for consistently being the role-model student.
I'm so thrilled to be able to show him that his work does not go unnoticed!
After all, everyone wants to feel appreciated!