Motivation, Risk Taking, & Achievement

Do you reflect on your lessons?  You can jot notes in the margins, add a post-it, keep a journal, or find your own system.  Reflecting will save you time when you plan next year and will improve the quality of your lessons.

From time-to-time, I will have an "ah-ha" moment.  You know those times when you think, why didn't someone clue me into this teachery tidbit months or years ago?

When I began teaching, I ---- for lack of a better word --- seemed to work under the "mud philosophy".  You know, when you "throw mud on a wall and see how much is going to stick" philosophy.  I took this approach when introducing important skills like letter sounds or sight words.  My poor students were overwhelmed which resulted in less-than-stellar academic results from the "mud philosophy". It wasn't that my students weren't capable of learning letter sounds or sight words.  This was not the right approach.

Then I tried a more structured approach with small "bite size" goals.  Students who did not know letter sounds began a program called Popcorn Sounds.  Their weekly goal was to learn 3 letters sounds per week.  Of course, they were welcome to learn more, but the minimum was 3 per week.  Students who knew all of the letter sounds began the Bubble Gum Word Program (sight words).  Their weekly goal was 3 words.  They were welcome to learn more, but 3 was the minimum goal.

Over time what I noticed was my students' confidence was soaring as they met their weekly goals. The more confident they became, the more risks they began to take when they came to an unknown word or other new skill.  They were more motivated and engaged.  They no longer just gave up.  They began using strategies which made my teacher's heart pitter-pat!

I wish someone would have told me about bite size goals sooner.  Is there something that you wished someone would have told you sooner?

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