Cultivating Effort

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I had one of those days today that you circle and look back on with pride.  I was working with a high school staff that has already moved past typical.  And as such, they are hungry to conquer the next challenge.  So, we were working on increasing both content pacing and student cognition in the classroom.  Doing just one of these is tough. Doing both of these things concurrently… Well as they say on TV, don’t try this at home.

The immediate predictable result of this push will be that “grades” are going to take a significant hit. This is a Title I campus and when grades start dropping, a lot of these students will quit.  Not because they are lazy or irresponsible, but because they have learned that if you can’t win the grade game, why play.

The staff knows that if their students will stick with them, keep giving honest effort in the classroom, they will begin to produce better work, quality work, exceptional work, that will earn a good grade… by the end of the course.

But how do you keep 2,000 students engaged and moving forward when the going STARTS tough?

Here is what we came up with.

In the first 6 weeks of school, if the student engages in the work, exerts some effort, and turns in the assignment, the lowest grade they can get on that assignment is a 70.  This is all assignments, from homework, to daily work, to quizzes, to tests.

The message: If you try, if you trust me, you will not fail.

In the second 6 weeks of the school, almost the same rule applies. Except now the lowest score a student can get is a 60. There is still a safety net. Effort is still important. But performance is beginning to count a little more.

From week 13 to the end of the school year, things are a little tougher.  Essentially the same rule as before, except now the lowest grade a student can get is a 50. 

The idea is that if we are going to push students to greater levels of success, it will require a greater risk of student “failure.”  Which means that as caring professionals we have to make sure that the recovery from the failure is not impossible, but assured if…

You try and you trust me.

I’ll let you know how this experiment progresses.  

Think. Work. Achieve.

Your turn…

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