Celebrate Your Students Every Day
by LaToya Fernandez, Teacher, Rocketship Discovery Prep
At Rocketship, we’re big on data-driven assessment to help us boost academic achievement by measuring student growth. When students see their own progress, they make an investment in their learning. But positive results aren’t the only thing that contribute to success.
Rocketeers recently took their NWEA MAP assessments, and as testing windows come to a close we might find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. We are excited testing is over, but we know that we have only hit the halfway point and there is still work to be done as staff, students and community. As we dig deep into our students’ strengths and areas where there is room for growth, it is exciting and humbling to discover how they are directly tied to our teaching practices.
As I come to this mid-year data point with my students, I realize more than ever how important it is to constantly validate them. We must always keep in the forefront of our minds that our students are growing up in a society where they don’t feel valued and they will experience injustices that can cause them to acquire insecurities affecting their mindset and the way they learn. It is our responsibility to express to them how very special and intelligent they are.
It is great to have big celebrations after testing and praise students who met and exceeded their goals. The joy of hard work paying off fosters a strong desire to keep growing and achieving. Standardized testing is a valuable part of school culture, but it is not an absolute of who our students are and what they are capable of. We know how high they can fly, and it’s crucial to reassure their value.
In my classroom I didn’t want my students to feel bad about not winning a pizza party because they didn’t have the highest test scores in the school. I know how hard they work and how far they’ve come, so to celebrate that, I placed a poster in my room that reads, “Success Tastes Better Than Pizza!”
I’ve seen huge academic shifts in students after receiving four powerful words, “I believe in you.” Where statistics say our Rocketeers can’t, we tell them every day they will. When student confidence is low and they are discouraged, we become the source of motivation by putting their chins up and reminding them of how tall they are.
In education I tend to stick by two important factors; 1) Never forget that this is the student’s opportunity to shine and they deserve the best and 2) Our students are the future leaders of our world and we have the honor of being their thought partners. Therefore, we must humble ourselves and instead of asking why they didn’t reach their academic goals, ask what we can do to help get them there. It is this humility that can transform the class into a dual learning experience for both teacher and student.
LaToya started her career at Rocketship as a member of the support staff team. She transitioned to an enrichment coordinator then a Rocketship tutor (ILS) before becoming a fifth grade humanities teacher at Discovery Prep. LaToya graduated from Newbury College in Boston where she studied Media writing and English.
Published on February 8, 2016
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