Wednesday, January 17, 2018

3 Steps To Continue Student Growth

Congratulations you've made it half way through the school year!

Do you ever get to this point and think, oh my goodness how am I going to finish?

I do every year. It's a great time to reflect on the first half of the school year and compare what worked and what did not work well with the students. One thing I've always noticed is the students' attitudes and work habits towards completing assignments. Why do I have more students completing less assignments? How do you get students to complete assignments in time for report cards? I don't like the end of quarter crunch for grades to be submitted. There needs to be a better solution for students turning in assignments in a timely manner.

Creating a system for the students to succeed within the classroom and the structure for grading doesn't have to be difficult. Implementing these 3 steps will improve your students' work habits and growth mindset. Try one or all three, and tap into your students' potential for academic growth and creating lifelong learners in and out of your classroom.

Step 1: Plan for grading 

Once I acknowledged that there was a problem with the process of grading, changing it to meet the students' needs was key. There are many variables that go into completion of work for a grade. The first is changing the amount of expected graded homework assignments. The easiest change was to go from the staggering 24 assignments to 9. That's 24 grades x 150 students = 3,600 grades just for homework. Your number may look different or the same, but it was key in setting an ACHIEVEABLE GOAL. Setting the standard helps students' GROWTH MINDSET. Once they can achieve a small goal, then they can achieve larger goals later.

Setting up the expectation at the beginning of the quarter was key. I created a calendar and set up the students to know when homework was due at the beginning of the quarter. Any other assignments that normally would have been "homework", now became a "notebook" grade under the "classwork" section of my syllabus.  Showing the calendar to the students, modeling how to turn in assignments to receive 100% credit, and checking grades was key. They bought into the new process and were on board with "less work".

Step 2: Plan for students to grow

Students all buy in to the plan of "less work". It's getting them to do the "less work" that can be the problem. Always have a Plan B for students. The easiest way to help students grow is creating a scaffolded approach. Students need structure and scaffolding the process of completing assignments is just as important as scaffolding the learning process. The Plan B for students who still didn't turn in work was to complete it during lunch in my classroom. No music. No friends. Just complete your work during lunch. Some saw it as a punishment and other saw it for what it was, an OPPORTUNITY to complete an assignment and RAISE their grade. After completing two lunches in the classroom students amazingly did not want to do that again. They would turn in their work ON TIME or before having to come in for lunch. This helped keep them accountable and they worked hard to complete it. Their growth mindset was encouraged to grow and develop as they worked hard to attain more knowledge.  Another opportunity offered to students to grow was through their test scores. Given a scaffolded approach, they completed a plan, retook the chapter test, and improved their grade. Sometimes just giving the OPPORTUNITY allows students to SHINE like never before. 

Step 3: Celebrate Growth

Lastly, plan to celebrate students' growth and accomplishments. At the end of each quarter giving out an award to every student gave them encouragement and helped them continue on their own growth mindset journeys. There are many different types of awards you can give out to your students. You can use phrases, goals, grades, or whatever will inspire your students to continue to do their best!

Awards let your students know you care about them, their growth, and their success. One of the best growth mindset strategies that I did for my students that worked. To earn the top scores your students need to know you care and you want them to do their best work. This strategy is just one simple way to show you care and want to CELEBRATE with them to continue their growth mindset journey.


I challenge you to use these certificates this week, this month, or this quarter. Giving them feedback on what they do right, helps them to continue to progress and grow. Maybe it's a certificate for homework completion, or just completing their classwork on time. You can make the certificates as personal as you want, but remember it is a process, commit to awarding certificates every quarter, month, or end of the year.

All the best,