Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Community that Cares

I'm not a fan of rewards and incentives for learning. No points for reading books. No treasure chest for "being good". No parties for being the "winner". It's my hope that I can foster a sense of "I can do it" or "I can make this happen" in the minds and hearts of my students and that they read voraciously, write with commitment to an audience, and take the initiative to learn because they're interested and intrinsically motivated.
I hate hate hate choosing one student over another for our school's Student of the Month award. I hate it because I saw the faces of the other 27 children when I announced our first homeroom "winner" at the beginning of the year. Why didn't all these students deserve the recognition of Student of the Month? Why couldn't I choose them all? Why did I have to choose one in the first place?
I love my school and my amazing administrators and am learning so much as a sixth grade teacher this year. And I've learned that it's okay to not always agree with those practices or ideas that have been put in place at school. I do have to submit my Student of the Month award nominee every month, but now my students make that decision each month. What I dreaded that early September morning is now an amazing experience to witness each month. I watch as my students nominate, negotiate, share positive and encouraging comments about their classmates, and then, as a class, they make the month's selection for THEIR Student of the Month. Each student in the class shares a positive note about the friend they chose for the recognition. It's watching them be honest, say smart things, write from their heart, and congratulate their classmate that makes me realize that I don't just teach and learn with a group of students. I teach and learn with a community of sixth graders who care about each other.
I'm off to school the teach and learn from this amazing community of caring, motivated, inspired, insightful, reflective, test weary sixth graders.


  1. What a smart way to negotiate something that goes against your grain and make it into something bigger and more positive than those who initiated it could ever have imagined!

  2. You are amazing to take a practice that you didn't agree with it, and make it better. Kudos!!

  3. I am so glad to see how you set this up as this will be my plan for next year. I love how you worked around the system to keep your ideals. I also love how you do celebrations as opposed to "winning class" parties.