Monday, September 17, 2012

I Pay My Students.

So what?  Who cares.  They do what they are suppose to do I pay them.  Just like my job, I do what I'm suppose to do and my bank account grows.  This is the same for my students.

I pay my students in the currency that matters for them.  Part of getting to know my students is determining what they value, what their "currency" is.  I seek to pay every kid in their currency.

For some students that's free time to play video games by letting them complete their practice in class.  For others it's one-on-one attention when they need it so their voice is heard.  Building a strong relationship with your students, knowing them as individuals allows me to pay them the way that matters to them.

As a part of our 2nd and 3rd year teacher professional development we are currently reading Robyn R. Jackson's book Never Work Harder Than Your Students.

As I am preparing for my meeting with them I though I would wrap up my top ideas from chapter 1.

Master Teacher Mindset:

  • Having all the answers isn't as important as know what questions to ask
  • Spend more time thinking about WHY the problem is occurring than trying to find solutions
  • Effective teaching happens in a myriad of ways
  • We all must be masters of our subject areas

Key Questions to consider:
  • Do you have an image in your head of what a "good student" looks like?
  • Are you able to see beyond the attitude and uncover their abilities?
  • What classroom currencies are we accepting and what currencies are students spending?
  • How are we teaching the language of the dominant culture, while also giving credit to the language of the students' culture?
  • How can you establish a classroom culture where collectivism trumps individualism?

Concepts from the chapter:
  • There is a currency in your classroom of intellectual and cultural proportion.
  • Every student is navigating the waters of how to acquire, negotiate and trade currency in your classroom.
  • If students ACT the way we expect or like, they are more likely to receive favorable treatment.
  • Favorable treatment includes extra help, high expectations, and access to opportunities.
  • Students that ACT the way we want them to are more likely to learn.
  • Students have the currency to spend in the classroom but don't see the product as valuable.
  • Students have different values than teachers that impact classroom behavior.
  • Beliefs and values drive behavior.
  • If you don't dress the part and talk the part, you lose street cred, regardless of the neighborhood you are in Southeast or Wall Street.
  • Want to be rich in life? Speak the language of the dominant culture.
  • Acquiring the language of the dominant culture allows students to become more "mobile."
  • Teachers need to be master "code switchers" taking curriculum and adapting/translating it to students' lives.
  • Students will not spend their own currencies if they do not believe that what they will get in return is valuable.
  • If you want to reward students, do it in a way that they value.
  • It's not the sticker that matters, it's the fact that you cared enough to give it to them and it's from you.

Dr. Sedlacek's eight non-cognitive characteristics that are predictive of academic success (in college):
  1. Positive self-concept: The confidence that leads to the determination to succeed.
  2. Realistic self-appraisal: The ability to accurately assess your own strengths and weaknesses and to use this assessment to further your own development.
  3. Successful navigation of the system: Knowing how to access resources and how to use the system to help you achieve your goals.
  4. Preference for long-term goals: Knowing how to set and achieve long-term goals, delay gratification, and persevere in spite of obstacles.
  5. Availability of a strong support person: Finding someone to confer advice, particularly in times of crisis.
  6. Leadership experience: Having the ability to organize and influence others.
  7. Community involvement: Being involved in a community.
  8. Knowledge acquired in and about a field: Having the explicit and implicit knowledge of a particular field of study.
Developing lessons throughout your year that works to build these 8 characteristics will benefit students past your grade level.


Every student looks at the agenda or learning goal and says:
1.  Is it important in my life to do well on this?
2.  Will it be fun/enjoyable to do well on it?

How are you paying your students?  Think about the currencies that students trade in your classroom and ask yourself, am I consistent with what the students value?

Whole chapter available here.

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