Whenever I want to communicate an important academic or behavioral idea to my students, I try to create a visual representation of that idea. Creating a visual reference point makes the idea easier for kids to understand, and it also gives it a sense of permanence because I can review the visual, as needed, over time.
Over the past few weeks I have been writing about the virtuous cycle that begins once students develop higher personal standards and expect more from themselves. This virtuous cycle has been on my mind quite a bit lately, and I have started to discuss the idea more explicitly and more frequently with my students.
In my two previous posts I have emphasized the importance of helping students develop higher personal standards. When kids expect more from themselves, a virtuous cycle begins in which they work harder, produce better work, and receive positive feedback about their work, effort, and attitude. As a result, their confidence and motivation grow. That leads, in turn, to even better effort, and the chain reaction progresses to a higher level.
Last week I wrote that students will make huge strides academically when they begin to expect more from themselves and develop higher personal standards of quality with regard to their work and their behavior. It is wonderful that schools and families talk frequently about the idea of high expectations, but significant progress will occur only when the expectations belong to the children themselves. In this post I share some ideas about how classroom teachers can encourage kids to make this important commitment.
With only five weeks remaining in the 2011-2012 school year, I have begun reflecting on many aspects of the past nine months with my students. The other day I was thinking about the kids who have made large academic improvements and the factors that might best explain these gains.
Since September, a couple children stand out in terms of the magnitude of their academic progress. Both come from supportive families who value education, yet both kids started the year working below grade level in at least one subject area. Now they perform at grade level in all areas and often act as important class leaders.