Education is the greatest civil rights issue of our time. It will take solutions around the HOW, not words around the WHAT.
How do you celebrate success in your classroom or on your team? Do you have a chant? A motion? A high five combined with a shout? Regardless of what combo gets you and those around you excited, celebration is key. Highlighting a job well done goes a long way for our students and for those we work with as well. That celebration increases investment and motivation, two things we can never have enough of in education!
Here are a couple of ways you can celebrate success:
1. A standard and quick motion or chant that you always do when you want to praise something in your classroom can work beautifully. In our organization, we use quick clapping combos that students and teams can use. For example, if a student gives a great answer, reward her with, “Can we give Abigail two claps? One, two.” And then the claps follow.
I have also heard really quick sayings used. In my own classroom, one of my favorite sayings was, “Reading makes you smarter.” If I wanted to praise excellent reader habits in a student, I would say, “Let’s give Eddie a “reading makes you smarter.” Then, the class repeats.
2. Another repeat strategy is to say the student’s name with the praise and have the whole class repeat. For example, if Sam worked diligently on a problem, announce for all to repeat, “Sam, you’re working hard today!” Then, the whole class repeats. Sam will surely be on cloud nine. When I run out of compliments, I’ll use the first letter of the student’s name to spark an adjective for me. For example, “Anna, that’s amazing urgency!” Remember to try your best to praise behaviors that other students can replicate. We want the students to be driven by the praise and for them to demonstrate academic and cultural behaviors that will drive success.
3. Finally, if you want to celebrate in silence, don’t forget silent cheers. I like to keep things urgent, so I would tell my kids, “2 second silent cheers, quick!” They all silent cheer for 2 seconds and then get back to work. I’ve also had the students do silent motions like, shooting a basketball or a touchdown sign, when I felt like they “scored” as a class.
The best teachers are the best motivators. They ignite something within their students. They find a way to push learning and also create the desire to learn more. It’s the perfect facilitation of the “I can” and the “I want.” Celebrating success can motivate your students or teammates and engage them in their work.
Keep it simple, and keep it fun. The rest will follow.
What are your suggestions for celebrating success?
In a team meeting today, I caught myself using the go to questioning strategy of “Who can tell me…” as I attempted to revisit some key points. Luckily, I noticed it and was able to quickly redirect.
This go to strategy is flawed (and downright ineffective) in that some students will rely on the rapid thinkers in the class to answer the question. The rapid thinkers will raise their hands, the teacher will call on them and then everyone will be satisfied with the exchange. The rapid thinkers for being able to recall info quickly, the teacher who feels like he/she taught the students well and those that are looking to escape accountability. Not good enough. ALL kids need to be accountable to the questions ALL the time.
Here are 3 alternatives to leading with “Who can tell me…?”
1. Start your questioning with a “search” for the information. This would sound like, “I’m searching for our key points from yesterday’s lesson, the most IMPORTANT information that we learned yesterday. One key point I am thinking about has to do with X. Everyone should be thinking with me about these points. I’ll be calling on several of you to provide us all with a point of information. Ready… (insert some wait time). Sam, which key point are you thinking about?” Once Sam answers, then you cold call another student to add to or modify.
2. We usually default to a “Who can tell me…” situation because we are about to review some key information. Instead of the boring strategy above, think about the Power of 3. There is huge power in things that come in threes - just like in this post! Set the students up for the power of 3 in your questioning. “Let’s take our minds back to our lesson on X. I’m looking for 3 powerful details about that lesson. As you get a powerful detail, count them on your fingers. I’m only looking for 3. If you have more, select the MOST powerful.” THEN, WAIT. Cold call students to share out 1-3 of their answers. Take additions to the details. You can also draw a triangle on the board and as you get one of your 3 most critical points, write them on the points of the triangle. This is a visual reminder for kids of the most important information.
3. A final alternative is to ask all the students in the class to stand. Remind the kids about the review topic. Tell them to start generating answers or ideas for your questions. Circulate and call on students to provide answers or details. As they answer have them sit down. Before they sit, they get to pick the next participant. You should know how many kids you want to have sit before you transition as you won’t have time for all the kids to answer, however, they will certainly be on their toes! There is just something about standing up to speak that wakes them up.
I hope you catch yourself the next time you fall in the “Who can tell me…” trap!
How do you set up review questioning for your kiddos?