Monday, January 3, 2011

My superstar learners get a pizza treat

Ki-Youn, Chan-hyuk hold up their point cards with my co-teacher

Just before our school's winter break, I threw a small pizza party for the class I call my "superstar class"; the students who were challenged this year and required a little extra help. We started out with almost 8 students in the first semester; second semester, our number count dwindled to 2.  The class was only held for 20 minutes after lunch once to twice a week.

This semester the tiny handful of students held spotted attendance, with the exception of two. Surpringly Ki-Youn and Chan-hyuk (read post here) were our near faithful attendees.

Confidence beats intelligence

In the case of slow learners, confidence is often what I strive for over intelligence. If you can give any child the feeling they can succeed, then it's enough incentive to keep them trying even if they get wrong answers.

Take for example, Ki-youn, who has made grand improvements in confidence and in growing "smart brains". He's been participating a lot in English class and our superstar class and you can see his
excitement and effort towards his learning. His confidence has gotten so bold that even when gets an answer wrong, he keeps trying like rapid fire until he gets it correct. This is when confidence turns into a never-give-up motto and one of "keep trying until you get there".

Chan-hyuk is getting closer to confidence, though he occasionally has difficulty. Still, we let him earn enough success and achievement that he continues to come to class and try even when the attendance dwindled. Confidence is key. 

Employing incentives and rewards in the classroom

As an added incentive to keep our attendance numbers from dropping further,., I made point cards for attendance and participation. I told the class that if they got 30 points they could attend the pizza lunch that I would treat them too.

I don't always understand why my co-teacher occasionally wants me to speed up the process of rewards, when I'm the one who initiates the idea of point cards, pizza and spends the time/money implementing it. She wanted me to have the pizza lunch earlier that I had scheduled, because the "kids were looking forward to it". She might have assumed I was treating all the students to pizza despite the lack of attendance and such. But with me, that's not the case...

Some award stars I made for my 4th grade star pupils and for my 2 slow learner stars

Rewarding students only when they do a good job

Life doesn't reward lazy people, does it?  As such, I don't reward students when they continually fail to show up or make no effort. I don't reward laziness. Some teachers may bend in their standards in order to appease all students with a reward. It isn't fair to the students who worked hard and enforced their own self-discipline.

A promise is like a contract-- rules are rules and you must honor them.

When I make a deal with my students, I state my conditions and leave the rest up to my co-teacher's translation of the rules and my students' responsibility.

When one of the students, Chan-hyuk had 25 points (not the required 30 points) and my co-teacher wanted me to reward them early, I had to put my foot down.  The agreement was 30 points.  No 30 points, no pizza. Simple.

Thus, they had to wait out our regularly scheduled date, so that Chan yuk could get his points. 

And he did.

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