Sunday, June 22, 2014

All Teachers' #1 Goal: To motivate for Improvement

The Super Improver Team is my single, favorite technique in the wealth of amazing strategies that WBT has put forth. The number one rule in teaching should be to reward students for improvement. We, as teachers, strive to take kids from where they are, and move them up.

After the three-day National Conference in Louisiana this week, I am even more convinced that the SIT is an ESSENTIAL part of every classroom. So many schools are mandating the use of the clip chart system...which I am very strongly opposed to (see Farrah.Shipley's post from her classroom blog, and read this article to learn more about why I am SO AGAINST using the clip chart system), but what they should be mandating is student improvement!

Here's Coach B's famous story about the Super Improvers Team...

Two students have a foot race. The faster student wins and gets an "A". The slower student loses and gets an "F". Everyday they have the same race. Everyday the result is the same. 

After a while, the faster student loafs, and the slower student quits. Of course! The grading system is unfair and doesn't motivate either kid!

A teacher creates a new race. Now, the fast student only gets an "A" when she beats her previous best time. Same for the slower student. Now each student always runs as hard as possible!

All human beings needs to feel successful and that their efforts are worthwhile. Whether intrinsically, or extrinsically motivated, the feeling of worth is one of the most important factors in determining a person's future. The students who fall farther and farther behind, and usually become our biggest behavior problems, are the ones who feel less and less success in school - so they look for other ways to feel successful.

The Super Improvers team is an enormously positive tool to help students feel success while continuously pushing them to improve. The idea is simple: look for and reward improvement. Improvement in anything, whether it be academic or behavioral.

Each time you see an improvement, you reward that student with a star on their Super Improver card. When they have earned ten stars, which means they have shown ten separate improvements, they move up to the second level.  Ten more improvements, ten more stars, move up to the 3rd level.

The different levels are shown by color; level 1=white, level 2=blue, level 3=orange, etc.

Stars can be awarded for writing more neatly, making to class on time more often, improving a test grade, increasing the number of math problems you can do in a minute, using manners more frequently...ANYTHING!

Each student has their own card. To earn stars, students don't meet some randomly set line of attainment...they simply have to show growth. As the teacher, you determine how you award stars, and what kind of growth you are looking for.

There are several examples on my post, "6 Ways to the Super Improver Team" showing how to implement this in a real way in any classroom.

In an upper grade classroom, however, in which a teacher sees a large number of students in one day, the SIT can become unmanageable.  In this case, we turn the power of the Super Improvers TEAM into the Super Improvers LEAGUE. More on that later in the week! Stay tuned!

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