If you want to review the past couple of weeks or are still searching for the time to sit down and begin the powerful reflection, you can find the past posts at the link below.
Chapter 5 - Environment for Learning - Do I Provide My Students with an Environment of Excellence?
Before we begin, take a look in your mirror and ask yourself the following questions about your students:
Do I provide them with a learning environment of learning?
Do I have our classroom mission and vision statements posted?
Do I have our classroom academic excellence criteria posted?
Do I have our student goals and strategies posted?
Do I have a "Wall-of-Fame" posted?
Do I have motivational quotes and affirmations posted?
Do I have historical images that reflect my students posted?
Do I have the names and pictures if colleges and universities posted?
Do I have the names of careers and their descriptions posted?
Picking up where we ended last week, we will continue with one of my favorite parts of Chapter 5.
Posting a Wall of Fame
Principal Kafele and I have one thing in common for sure, we are both huge sports fans. Sports analogies can be made in regards to education all day long as there is so much in sports that is applicable to what happens in classrooms every day. In sports, fans and athletes celebrate a big play, a run or point scored regardless if their team is wining or losing. The same should occur in the classroom. We must find the smallest excuses to celebrate students and their accomplishments. Too many students simply never hear prize directed at them; they hear criticisms, condemnations, and put downs, bit hardly ever hear someone say, "Excellent!" or "Great Job!" or "You are brilliant!" It makes sense, when children are told they are doing something well, they are more likely to continue what they are doing. However, of they become accustomed to a steady stream of criticism, they are not as likely to change what they are doing.
Post a wall of fame in your classroom to celebrate your students' accomplishments. This is your students' wall; it's about them. There are many things you could focus on, but hers is a list of five suitable for a Wall of Fame.
Subject Area: student of the month
Homework: student of the month
Attendance: student of the month
Samples of outstanding student work
Of course, add other items and even acknowledge your students as frequently as you deem beneficial and appropriate. The bottom line is that you want to ensure that your classroom environment is student centered and that celebrating your students' accomplishments is f paramount importance.
Some schools post their honor roll on a wall and Principal Kafele agrees with this initiative. The school's honor roll should be prominently displayed. He also believes that the names of students who make honor roll should be displayed in those students' classrooms; such recognition gives them a sense of pride in their accomplishments and serves as an incentive for students who are not on the honor roll.
Subject Area "Students of the Month"
Typically these programs acknowledge a very small number of students who are practically competing against each other, so he decided to expand his program by including the top students in each subject area. This way they do not compete against each other, they simply have to meet the criteria developed for recognition in each subject area. In doing so, students who struggle in most areas, may still be able to find one subject they can excel in and find something to be celebrated. There is not limit to the number of students who cannot recognized as a subject area "student of the month."
He recommends the same for you and your students. Develop criteria that are challenging but attainable. Here are some examples:
Receives As or Bs on all tests and quizzes
Receives As or Bs on all classroom projects
Completes all homework assignments
Displays excellent classroom behavior
Participates extensively in class
At the end of each month, students will love seeing their name posted and will literally stand in awe of the names being posted.
Homework "Student of the Month"
On another section of the wall, post certificates for students who have completed all of their homework for the month. Such recognition is an incentive for all students to complete all homework assignments every month.
Attendance "Student of the Month"
Another section of your wall could be reserved for attendance. Here you might post certificates or a list of all students who attended school everyday in the past month.
Samples of Outstanding Student Work
As a consultant one of the first things Kafele looks for is student work and the second is, are the dates on the work. He wants to see work that is current; it disappoints him to see work that is more than a month old. When the samples are continuously updated students are likelier to strive to do superior work, knowing it may get displayed.
So, check out the work on your rooms, grade level halls or bulletin boards. Has it been updated within the last month?
On the first day of each month you should lead your students through a short, informal ceremony at some designated time of the day; perhaps at the start or end of class. This time is used to recognize students who have met your criteria for having their name or work displayed on the "Wall of Fame." This ceremony sends a message to all of your students that you value them, their work, and you value their academic growth and development.
Again, there are many students sitting in your room who are unaccustomed to praise and recognition. The go days without hearing something nice or positive about themselves. It's up to us to make sure our students know hoe important they are.
I like how he unpacked this information. Nothing earth shattering, but one of those, stop and make you think moments. We all want the effort our students give to increase. We want their best each and every day. What if you could make small changes within your room to increase the chances of them giving their all? Would you do it?
We will close out Chapter 5 next week focusing on motivational quotes, historical images that reflect our students, posting names and pictures of colleges and universities and posting names and descriptions of careers.