It was the first day back to work. Summer was officially over. As I walked into the building, numerous thoughts ran through my head. What worked last year? What didn’t work? What type of candy would I need to stock up on this year? What are my goals for this year? What are my goals for my students this year? And the age old question- who will be on my roster this year?!
As I entered the room for our first staff meeting, I saw others scouring their class rosters After being seated, my roster was handed to me by my principal. What do my classes look like this year? Mostly new students, with an exception or two. I thought, “This is cool, a whole new bunch to get to know and work with this year. I can do that!” However, I had missed the main theme of this roster…
They are ALL young men. This was no mistake but rather a very intentional move on the part of my principal. I was asked to develop and implement some sort of motivational plan that would work to enhance these students’ academic and behavioral success. My goal was to enhance academic performance, boost classroom morale, and build a positive rapport in the classroom all while utilizing classroom competition. Well, here’s what I came up with!
Level Up: A Plan to Boost Academic and Behavior Success
Create Guidelines - I needed to set realistic and attainable expectations so students could experience success and not become discouraged while working at a variety of levels. These may need to be adjusted along the way, but I felt that a good starting point was the minimum amount of work students would need to complete to pass their classes. Everything else completed would be a bonus! Creating a set of clear, defined guidelines was important to my class. I wanted my students to understand expectations and not have any surprises.
Brainstorm Incentives - I asked myself, “What do young men between the ages of 13-18 want?” Some of the ideas I came up with are candy, food/drink, music, time outside (basketball), and some incentives to be named later. Now, I am working to secure some more funding to provide more of a variety of incentives. Some other rewards I would like to include are movie tickets, lunches, and other items students that do not receive on a regular basis but that are still affordable as well. #teacherbudget
Progress Monitoring Strategies - This was the most important component to me. We have to be able to see where we have been, where we are going, and where we want to be. Each student has been assigned an “old school” video game character that charts their progress on a board in the classroom. No names are present on the characters because I wanted to maintain some anonymity with the students while trying to prevent any shaming of sorts. It is my hope that students will see where they were last week and try to compete with themselves and rise to the next level next week. I’ve also created a weekly checklist to complement this that records the number of assignments a student has completed in a given subject. The weekly checklist not only helps me to monitor student progress but forces me to stay up to date with my grading!
Make Appealing to Students - I went with the theme of old school video games in hopes that students would relate and find it engaging. When presenting the new system to my students, I utilized video games and music to connect with tthem. The presentation featured Mario, J. Cole, Donkey Kong, NBA YoungBoy, and a few other notable characters in the video game and hip hop community. I did my best to make all components relevant and relatable while engaging students and promoting a healthy, productive classroom environment.
Stay tuned for updates on this journey to academic success!