Monday, October 18, 2010

Your Check Engine Light is On

So often teachers and other school personnel get wrapped up in what a student isn't doing or a goal they aren't reaching, rather than what they are doing. I'll make a personal example that is not school related. Ever since I went away to college, my dad has made a valiant effort to get me to take an interest in the inner workings of my car. He taught me how to check my oil, how to fill my windshield washer fluid, when to add this fluid and get that filter changed, how to check my tire pressure and where it should be at each time of the year, etc. Now, being an only daughter, it was my understanding that these things were my daddy's job, and as such I took no interest in such matters (sorry Dad!). But, as I've gotten older, I've taken more responsibility for how my car is running (or passed any issues off to Boyfriend... mwahaha). I won't ever be a car whiz kid, and I certainly won't meet my dad's car standards, but my windshield washer is always full!

Teachers and school staff need to reward students for the small milestones they reach. If Desire has difficulty working independently, reward her for having her pencil out or putting her name on her paper. So what if Frankie wanders the classroom aimlessly? Reward him for just sitting in his seat! Help Monique learn to raise her hand rather than yell out by praising the heck out of her the few times she does remember to put her hand up. Small steps can add up to real behavior changes, and it reminds students of the great little things they do every day (and it reminds the teachers too, which might be more important!).

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