Wednesday, June 6, 2012

SBG and Motivation

As always, @lmhenry9 has given me a lot to think about in her latest blog post. This year's implementation of SBG was definitely different than the previous year. During 2010-11, I only did SBG in Algebra 2 and (for the most part) I had kids that were very happy to be in control of their success. Many of them had not had success in previous math classes and the idea that they controlled their destiny (aka grade) was a selling point in many of their minds. Granted, it was my first year with SBG, so I may be remembering some of it with rose colored glasses, but this year I really noticed some diffferences.

The core question comes down to this.... How do you reach/encourage the reluctant learner?

First, let me take a large part of the blame... I had very large classes (at the end of the year, I had 122 students in 4 AP Stat classes) and by the end of the day I was just flat out exhausted, so I did not do as much as I could/should have to reach those learners. Also, most of those reluctant students were in my 5th and 6th hour classes, which were my most challenging classes in academics, behavior, and teacher-patience level.

But, all of that aside, I did have several students (especially in those two classes) that I reached out to multiple times, trying to encourage them to come in, get help, and reassess objectives to no avail. For some of them, I begged them to come in, provided a multitude of resources, made myself more than available (before school, after school, advisory, during any "off" hours), wrote them notes on their quizzes, emailed with their parents, etc and still nothing. Sadly, I cannot say that I individually spoke to every student and those I did speak to, I didn't speak to often enough, but I am at a loss at what to do. These were seniors in high school - about to embark on a college/career journey and eventually I had to let them make their own choices.

How can I do a better job next year of reaching out to those students and letting them experience success?



Anna Blinstein said...

Wow, tough for sure. That's one of the worst feelings as a teacher... that you've not connected with a kid and can't help them. It sounds like you're doing just about everything that you can. Have you talked with other adults about these students, whether it's their Math teachers from last year, other current teachers, advisors, learning specialists, counselors (not sure of the resources at your school for students) or...? At my school, this would be reason for a meeting, possibly including the student, to discuss why things aren't working and how to improve the situation. It's important to remember that this is not a one man/one woman job, but a team effort. If you find some other ways to motivate, please do share!!

liketeaching said...

I think its good to remember that most kids are not used to independent work and either don't know where to start or think of it as optional.

One thing I try to do with SBG is devote some lessons early in the year to revision and reassessment. In those classes I can focus on those kids who have not yet been motivated to do it at home. This way I can model different ways they could revise independently and make sure they can see some success for their efforts. It doesn't work with all pupils, but I think that it at least lets them know what SBG is all about.