As much as I love my students, I know that they tend to be extremely lazy. Today, I checked the Lexile levels of each of my class periods. While each class has been increasing since August (almost 150+ Lexile level growth per class!!!), I noticed a pattern. The class period with the lowest class Lexile average has the lowest number of students failing, while my class with the highest class Lexile average has the highest number of students failing. This absolutely does not correlate, and I definitely told them so.
What the data told me was that, as a whole, students were not having a difficult time reading the materials; they’re having a hard time following directions and completing assignments. I told students that, while I was more than proud that they are at grade level Lexile-wise, I was disappointed that I had so many students receiving failing grades, especially since their homework each night is to read. One student in the higher average class pointed out, “Well, if we’re doing so well with Achieve , and Achieve is a summative grade, then why aren’t we passing your class?” I had to explain that Achieve is an assignment that we do once per week. One assignment per week, out of almost 60 other semester assignments, won’t equal a passing grade. When I broke it down like that, they understood; they need to put in more effort.
Since last year, I’ve struggled with balancing my high expectations and reality. I tend to be really hard on my students (blame my mom) because I truly want the best for them, and I know their capabilities. I know exactly what students need an extra push (*cough* parent conference *cough*) or a small pep talk, and what students legitimately need help. However, at some point in the school year, I let them get a taste of what it feels like to have to sink or swim. I’m not one of those teachers who throws out an assignment because the whole class fails it, especially if it’s on a topic I’ve taught no less than five times (like CEREAL paragraphs). At that point, students have to decide: ask Miss B. for help or fail. That is the question.
What do you do to keep up student motivation?