How many times have you heard that in your classroom? Or my favorite from personal experience...
What do I get if I get a good grade?
Hey there, kiddo. How 'bout a quality education? Maybe a good future? How about just the satisfaction of knowing you've grown academically?
But I know what he's really talking about. Motivational collateral. This kid is fishing for a prize. He wants to see if his good grade will get him anything. He's probably trying to decide if the prize is even worth getting a good grade for. Ugh!
And you know the worst part? I actually created this monster.
How many times have I rewarded excellent performance with prizes? Make a 100-pick a prize from the treasure chest! You made an A???? Here's a pencil!!! Everyone who was proficient or advanced gets a sticker for their sticker charts!!! Dum-dums for everyone!!!!
Sheesh. I'm starting to realize that I was the dum-dum. Or basically, what I was doing was really dumb-dumb.
I knew Chapter Four would be a good read for the simple reason that I am quite aware that I overemphasize grades. It's hard not to when you've worked in a pay-for-performance district. My specific pay depended on proficiency-not academic growth. I did whatever it took to motivate them to do their best (on the test).
It hurts me to say that last part.
And I didn't have to read too far before I knew everything I'd been doing was wrong. Solarz wrote, "Unfortunately, when grades, rewards, or punishments are a child's only motivation for doing well in school, he or she will find ways to work the system and miss the educational value of the lesson."
So what do I do? Let me share a few of Solarz's suggestions that I felt could be easily integrated into my classroom.
Of course this chapter discusses topics well beyond this, like e-portfolios and improving classroom behavior, but this is what really resonated with me this week as I begin to plan for the new school year. Don't forget to check out the other book study blogs below to get their take on this chapter.
See you next week!