Why you need to recognize effort and how to do it! – Episode 048

Don’t you really love the effort that your students put into the classroom?

Don’t you really love the effort that your spouse or significant other puts into your relationship?

It’s an awesome feeling when your love sends you the unsolicited note, or the spontaneous affection. Parents, how much do we love it when our own kids go above what they normal do and clean their rooms without us yelling?

We value and love effort.

This is true because we when we DON’T put in effort, we notice it and feel it. When you DON’T stick to your diet, when you DON’T get up when you are supposed to, you end up paying for your lack of effort.  Yes, the immediate pay off is immediately gratifying (the extra 3 minutes in bed and the double chocolate donut) but you will pay for that lack of effort down the line, someway, somehow.

We need to capture our students effort in our classroom.

For some of our students, what they do is effortless. The bell curve is very real and we will always have those students to whom things come “easy” to them. But this does not free you from challenging them! On the contrary, they have different needs that must be met, and effort for them looks differently.

On the other side of the bell curve, we need to capture the effort of those who’s performance is considered “low” or for those kids who are getting by. So in essence, it is not necessarily effort in general that we need to capture, but we must capture and REWARD effort immediately when it happens.

Sometimes just seeing someone put in effort, sometimes just recognizing a students for the effort they are putting in at that moment, is a reward in itself. We NEED to see their effort and we need to pay attention to those efforts. Especially at the beginning of the year! A safe space is created in your classroom when you fully use the power of your self awareness (this is one of the principles of my course The Self Driven Classroom) and when you are looking for effort and recognize it immediately and reward that effort when it happens, you are sending the appropriate feedback to your students by saying: I SEE YOU, I RECOGNIZE YOUR EFFORT, I WILL REWARD YOU FOR IT.

When that one student who was quiet for weeks all of a sudden raises his hand, RECOGNIZE THE EFFORT!!!

Children, especially children, want instant gratification! More importantly, they want to know that they are doing the right thing, at the moment they are doing it. The feedback you send them when you acknowledge their efforts is critical and essential! A high five, a pat on the back, or a shoulder rub are great ways to recognize their efforts. Even you pointing a finger at them with a smile or a fist bump in the air, can give them the feedback that YOU SEE THEM!

The best part about you recognizing effort in your classroom; you are sending feedback to the entire classroom. You are sending the message to all the other students that you recognize effort, you look for it, you value it, and you will reward it. This gets kids very excited and motivated for wanting to put into the class that effort! Soon, kids begin to battle over which one can get the answer first!

Some effort is quiet.

For some students effort is completing one assignment. For others, its finally putting their name on their paper. For others, effort is showing up to class. Effort is effort is effort. We can be cynical about this, but the most valuable thing we can do for our students is acknowledge effort in all its various forms. For that one student who finally came to class on time; give them the high five, the pat on the back, the shoulder rub, the recognition! Effort is effort is effort.

You want to recognize all the various levels of effort in your classroom because those various levels will grow. One day they show up to class on time, the next day they show up with a pencil, and the next time they show up on time with a pencil and complete their work!

Effort is rewarded in our society! Think about the latest movie you watched or the blockbuster movie you saw this summer. We do not pay to watch our hero quit and say “well, maybe tomorrow”! We pay to watch our hero go through a hero’s journey where at the end of the movie, all the effort they put into achieving their goals is somehow rewarded. Your students are on that same hero’s journey!

Who do you want to be in your students hero journey? What role do you want to play in their journey? Every hero’s journey has characters who help the hero and villains, who get in the way of the hero. WE too are on a hero’s journey and we also want to be recognized by our students, fellow teachers, and admin for the work we do and our efforts! So in your students lives, which character do you want to be, what role do you want to play?

It is important that you identify and settle with the character you wish to play in their lives, because YOUR effort will be aligned to the role you wish to play in their lives. You model the behavior of what your students will emulate in your classroom. If your students see you putting in effort and trying your best everyday, they will follow your lead and emulate your behavior.

Don’t think you have time to do this? You don’t have time to NOT do this! The reason; the QUALITY of the time you spend with your students is more important than the quantity of time you spend with them. You know there are days when you and the kids are staring at the clock, as opposed to the days when you and your students are fully invested in the experience and the lesson and you don’t seem to have enough time.

Quality of Quantity.

How can you increase the quality of the time you spend with your students? RECOGNIZE EFFORT!!!

  1. Look for the effort that your students put into the classroom. Look for varied degrees and levels of effort that comes from your students. Effort is effort is effort.
  2. Recognize that effort immediately through instant feedback; a high five, a pat on the back, shoulder rub, A SMILE,  fist bump, or simply acknowledging what they did.

This directly benefits you as well! When you walk into your classroom and your students increase the amount of effort they put into your classroom, that makes your teaching experience more enjoyable, which gives you the mental and emotional nutrition to put in more effort, which makes them put more effort as well! It’s a beautiful feedback loop that helps create and facilitate the self driven classroom that we all want!

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