Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Push

This year has been one big learning experience for me. Always one to focus on intrinsically motivating my students, especially for behaviors, it's been tough to run a heavy reward program. I honestly tried every tactic I could before realizing that if I didn't change something fast then I wouldn't be able to teach these children anything.

My team members have long used a reward system in their classrooms, and there's always been an undercurrent of tension when it comes to our philosophies about behaviors. I love and respect my teammates, but this is one area where we diverge into two completely different styles.

Since I'm so against using a reward system, I've had a hard time committing to one thing for more than two weeks. Not only can I feel myself pushing back against this becoming a standard part of our classroom life, I have noticed that any one thing only lasts a maximum of two weeks before the interest fades for my kiddos. I was explaining this to my team member and friend, and suddenly I found myself standing on ground that made me uneasy. As resistant as I am to giving out rewards, I found myself at the end of a sales pitch for using a specific system. The more she tried to convince me, the more I felt my heart pushing back against this idea.

Why do we feel so compelled to sell our believes and practices to other educators? We perceive the hard-sell warily, like we might listen to a salesman or political pitch. There is always a tipping moment where the seller crosses some line, maybe because they become a little too earnest, or they step across the threshold of our personal space. But it's almost a perceivable shift in the air. That's the moment we become suddenly protective of our philosophies and practices, and the seller feels the lack of validation for their own.

Why do we take such fierce ownership over our teaching practice, to the extent that it sometimes feels like "my way or the highway"?

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