Convince students that they can succeed [I-1]

How can I convey that effort leads to growth?

Weave your strategies into your daily lessons and ongoing classroom rituals

  • Be student-centered
  • Differentiate (when necessary)

What are some effective strategies for building students' "I Can"?

Illustrations are grouped by the proficiency that they best bring to life.

We would like to communicate our deep appreciation to these teachers who are allowing us to learn from their experiences.

Explanation

Presenting generic pep talks and singular strategies that are applied to everyone is not an effective approach to investment. Overly general and broad messages—however enthusiastic and sincere—will not provide students with the specific and tailored encouragement they need.

Solution

Differentiate your approach. Think of specific things that will motivate specific children. Determine the interests, values, fears, dreams, and influential relationships of your students by tailoring the motivational techniques for each student in your class (e.g. For a student who loves comic books, let her read comic books during free read), and for academic subsets of students (e.g. For students who struggle with reading, challenge and reward them for the number of books read.)

Explanation

Presenting great investment lessons in the first week of school and then never revisiting those messages or themes. Many teachers present inspired one-time beginning-of-year presentations (on the achievement gap, malleable intelligence, etc.) and stop there.

Solution

For investment strategies to be effective they must be frequently and consistently delivered—not isolated and abandoned. Infuse investment strategies into the content of the daily lesson plan. This does not require major changes to the lesson plan; it simply means adding a line or two where investment can be inserted (the lesson opening lends itself especially well to investment messages).

Explanation

Many students believe that they struggle because they are inherently incapable. Hearing a teacher tell other students, "You have a good memory" or "You are good at math," reinforces this notion that kids are either good at something or they're not.

Solution

Use language that emphasizes malleable intelligence. Praise students for "learning"and "improving" or "listening carefully." Teachers who assert the notion of malleable intelligence send the message: "It is easy to do something that comes easily to you; it is more noteworthy to work hard to tackle a challenge."

Explanation

Investing your students in you, instead of the work. Teachers often overly rely on charisma and their ability to sway their students as a means of investment. While student admiration and affection for you is important (and will prove valuable to your investment efforts), your influence will cease at the school year’s end.

Solution

If your students are to remain invested in their academic development over the long haul (which is indeed the goal) it is vital that they believe in themselves and their own abilities—and do not just perform to please you. Make sure that your investment efforts center around nurturing and conveying the values (i.e. hard work and perseverance) that will be transferable to future school years.

Explanation

Undermining your "I Can" strategies by having insufficiently high expectations. In many cases, the low expectations of others have suppressed your students' interest in working hard and succeeding in school. Research consistently proves that students achieve according to the expectations that teachers establish (the "self-fulfilling prophecy").

Solution

High expectations must be the centerpiece of your motivational approach. "Holding high expectations" is in fact something you do, not just believe. Our students, very often, do not believe they can succeed and do not believe that their hard work will lead to the academic success. Thus, a key to success as a teacher of minority and low-income children is establishing and maintaining high expectations for both your students and yourself.

Guidelines for holding high expectations

Explanation

Delivering one message repeatedly throughout the year, without including the variety of messages and strategies necessary to reach all of your students. A comprehensive investment system must be multi-faceted and integrated into everything you do.

Solution

Have established systems in place to incorporate and reinforce a variety of messages. Chants, mottos, class pledges, and visual displays are a great way to integrate your messages into the structure of your classroom.

Explanation

Recognize the danger of class names, slogans, or visual displays that have no reality behind them. For example, imagine the disconnect that occurs if you hang a banner that reads "Try, Try, Try Again: Effort Breeds Success" and yet when a student asks to retake the test on which she got 62%, you respond, "No. You got what you got. You'll just have to study harder for the next test."

Solution

Ensure consistency between your messages and your actions. First translate your values into messages and package them in a way that students can understand. Then, secure the reality behind those messages. As any good marketer will tell you, you can't send messages effectively unless there is a reality behind them – in other words: "walk the walk."

Tools to ensure that you maintain high expectations for students

 

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