- February 10, 2018 at 11:36 AM #45472
I read the book Good Morning Miss Dove recently. I was inspired by her dedication to excellence and how she transmitted that to her students. Teachers promote excellence in conduct and academics. So often I’m overwhelmed by myriads of details to manage or micromanage in order to maintain excellence. (e.g. correct spelling, good study skills, good posture, neat penmanship, compassionate relationships) What are practical ways that you sustain consistent excellence in your classroom?
- February 12, 2018 at 12:20 PM #45501
One suggestion: Limit but sharpen the focus.
I’ll illustrate by first noting a negative: Allowing one or two key disciplines to slip generally results in a ripple effect.
For example, allowing students to leave their seats on a whim and wander the room aimlessly contributes to a nonchalant approach to school in general.
Accepting illegible assignments contributes to slovenly work habits and results.
Now for the positive: Instead of micromanaging every detail, choose a handful of key habits to cultivate and insist on them. Choose from focuses such as Neat and complete work, punctuality, working hard at work time/playing hard at play time, respect (for self, property, others…).
A few key items well chosen and insisted upon tend to also have a ripple effect–one that is healthy.
- February 12, 2018 at 1:23 PM #45503
Set clear goals and voice expectations.
Frequently reinforce (verbal praise, high five, sticker) students for positive work habits.
Pick out a few skills to practice, reinforce or emphasize each week. Students will learn the skills and it will help reduce the overwhelming feeling of focusing on many details at one time.
- February 16, 2018 at 9:14 PM #45572
Great question! I sometimes find it difficult to maintain high standards for my students because I struggle with discipline, order, and organization in my own life. I’ve found that the more I grow in and model excellence, the more I can call my students to do the same.
Jonas’s suggestion to limit but sharpen is spot-on. When deciding what to focus on, I consider the objective of the class, assignment, or activity in question. Correct grammar may be a priority for an essay written for English class, but not for one written for a history class.
The standards that I emphasize in all my classes tend to revolve around performing required actions as accurately and precisely as possible. In my business math class, for example, I’m a stickler for proper rounding. If the instructions say to round to the nearest tenth of a percent and the correct answer is 13.8%, an answer of 13.81% or 14% is wrong, even if the correct process was followed and all arithmetic was done correctly. (If a rounding error is the only mistake, I usually give half credit.) Faced with a problem such as, “If a 50 lb. sack of flour is divided into 3 equal parts, how many pounds will each part weigh?” some students will inevitably give answers of 16.67 lb. or even 16.66 lb. These are incorrect; students can and should answer either 16 2/3 lb. or 16.6 repeating (.6 with line over it; I don’t know how to type that on a computer) lb. Students may initially complain, but I stick to my guns and they get over it.
On a history assignment, upholding this standard looks like this: A student may answer the question “Why was the Greek language widely spoken in the eastern Mediterranean region at the time of Christ and the Apostles?” by writing, “They conquered it.” Well, who conquered what, and what does that have to do with the question? The student should have written something like, “After the conquests of Alexander the Great, Greeks ruled the eastern Mediterranean and spread their culture throughout the region.” In my experience, the student in question will respond, “But that’s what i meant!” To which I reply, “Then that’s what you should have said.” 🙂
Wow, this post got long. Anyway, that’s one way I encourage excellence in my students.
- March 8, 2018 at 10:54 PM #46195
Model consistent excellence (as much as possible) for the students. If you want them to be prompt, you need to be prompt. If their assignments should be turned in on time, you should give assessments and grades in a timely manner. Report cards should be handed out on schedule, not a few days after the deadline. If you want neat handwriting, write neatly yourself on the board and as you provide written feedback on their work.
Providing an example of excellence will not magically produce excellence in students but it gives one a good foundation to build upon and require excellence from students.
Also, recognize that excellence in all things is not attained quickly.
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