I thank whoever encouraged Laurie to write this. She puts into this one post all the common sense wedded to academic knowledge everyone in our field is supposed to have.
Each of us works in a unique community. If your community and your kids are highly “reward-motivated”, not grading participation is a different challenge. However, if your heart tells you that this is the way you’d like to go, I offer you this …..
Coaches do it.
One thing that really convinced me that kids will do this was watching my son
and his athletic coaches. There are no grades in sports. Especially in
practice!! The only benefit is being part of the team and playing with the
team. And trust me, my son was the kind of kid who rarely did anything for
nothing. He used to try to get paid to get out of bed!!! Yet day after day he
showed up for practice and worked really hard.
I am not a coach. I wasn’t an athlete. So I have tried to do some observing to
see what makes that “click.” And many of the things that I see in a great coach
are qualities / behaviors that benefit a teacher…especially a CI teacher:
* emphasizing the “team” and inspiring pride in” the “team.”
* encouraging individual gifts in team members…and encouraging the team to
* having a sense of humor
* using nicknames (REALLY REALLY REALLY POWERFUL)
* the simple magic of the word “coach”…I think that “Profe” or “Sra. C” can
work the same way
* inside “jokes”
* sharing strategy…coaches tell the team what they are prepping for and why
* celebration of accomplishments
* personal/individual conversations or “conferences”
* setting goals for the team and for individuals
* the simple message: you are part of this team and YOU MATTER.
Now, obviously, there are things that coaches do that don’t work in the classroom. But I’m talking about looking at a good coach with a judicious eye and asking yourself: What would work?
These are things that good coaches aren’t “taught”. They may or may not do them consciously. They are things that they do from the heart and because another great coach modeled them and they “borrowed” the idea and adapted it for their own team. Sound familiar?
It isn’t just coaches. Watch a great marching band director, theater advisor,
etc. They all recruit, inspire and maintain numbers of student for activities
that ARE NOT GRADED.
And it isn’t always because they have a “booster club” of parents. They manage to recruit, inspire and keep kids who are often not successful anywhere else. I’m convinced that it is because of the relationship between coach and team…coach and player. We can learn a lot from them.
and thanks to the friend who encouraged me to write about this,