Personalized learning. So many beautiful, complex facets to those two words. Distilled to its essence, it has everything to do with respect…a deep, abiding respect for the uniqueness of each person. We. Are. All. Different. That is my compass. Everything I do comes from that space: creating learning experiences, choosing novels, sharing digital tools…they all come from my respect for who you are as a person. So, it’s not so hard to imagine what I believe about behavior, discipline, classroom management…whatever you want to call it. My compass? We. Are. All. Different.
Years and years ago, I used coupons in my classroom; the kids loved it. They collected the coupons and turned them in for “Booga Booga” bucks that they could use to buy extra recess, lunch with Mrs. Harrod, a book. It wasn’t until much later that I realized it had become about the reward. The reward…not the learning. The reward…not behaving because it’s the right thing to do. The reward. The reward.
Today, my learning space exudes a much different vibe. It begins with me knowing each of my students well. It continues with many, many learning pathways created to honor their uniqueness. Behavior issues? I have very few but when they do arise, I deal with them on a person-by-person basis. We. Are. All. Different. Although i occasionally give out tickets as part of our school-wide program, my students have shown little interest in them. Honestly, they are more intrigued by the learning happening in our classroom. Our fun is derived from the incredibly engaging learning experiences students choose to engage in. Don’t believe me? Listen to the interview my students participated in recently.
In the meantime, I encourage you to read a few of the resources that have guided me towards a deeper understanding of behavior. After perusing them, consider your own beliefs about discipline, motivation and classroom management. Do you want your students doing something FOR something? Or is the act, in and of itself, reward enough?
Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink