I’m currently writing a novel. It’s a challenge – I’ve been writing in the margins of life for the last few months – getting up early or staying up late.
As I said in my post about pursuing your dreams outside of teaching, this isn’t because I don’t want to be a teacher. If anything teaching makes me want to write because I get to watch young people discover the amazing worlds authors have created. And in a tiny, minuscule way, I want my writing to be part of that.
Last week I reached the end of the novel. I don’t mean it’s finished, I wouldn’t even call it a first draft yet, but it’s there – the story is complete (I think!).
But, instead of being happy about that, my first thought was: “right, what now?” And without a pause I started reading back through a part I know needs work.
What I should have done was to celebrate that milestone and marked that victory.
I know I’m guilty of this in my teaching too. I always talk to my students about the exams they’ll face, the questions they’ll have to answer and what they need to improve to do that. But, it’s not often that we will stop to celebrate a victory – whether that’s the acquisition of a new skill or a great piece of work being completed.
As I did with the novel, we just move on to “right now we need to do this…”
Here’s five things I’m going to try to mark victories in my classroom:
Positive points spreadsheet
This is something I did a couple of years ago, but will try again. I kept a spreadsheet where I put points on for great answers, work or a generally brilliant attitude. Then each half term there would be a prize given out for the person with the most points.
Attach something positive to an event (even if it was something you would do anyway).
Next time we need to watch a film or documentary as part of a scheme or work I’m going to say we’re doing that because of some really positive work. Even though, in reality we would watch it anyway, the connection with success is a positive one.
Make an expert
If a student has really excelled in something through hard work I’ll make them the class expert. That means they field questions from other students on the topic and help those who haven’t yet mastered it. This could even last the whole year if you meet the skill again.
Give some time
Spend some time looking back over the success before moving on. Talk about what made that successful and how we could use that to make future tasks successful.
Highlight what is awesome
When students have really worked hard and excelled at a piece of work I’ll have them draw a box around it in their exercise book with a highlighter. That way, when they look back through their books the things that they’ve really worked at stand out as achievements.
How to you celebrate victories in your life or classroom?