Saturday, August 24, 2013

Icky Incentive Update

A few weeks ago I wrote about a surprise I had received in regards to an incentive program that I was possibly going to be participating in. I appreciated all of the discussion and support I received, both here in comments and via email, and everything you shared helped me be prepared for the discussion our team held on August 14.

Some days I feel like life at school is one big fight. Ever since we pitched our proposal in the spring of 2011 it seems like we are constantly in a battle, a battle of trying to change versus keeping things the same as they've always been. Every now and then I just get tired of fighting, and even though we feel strongly about something we have to decide how big we want this battle to be. When it became apparent that I was going to be participating in this program no matter how I felt I decided to refocus on making the program something that didn't bother me quite so much.

I have to give a huge shout out to our math coach - she mediated a challenging discussion and helped us come up with a plan that worked for everybody. A key piece of that plan is the fact that it can be individualized by class and even by student if we want to go that far. Anyway, here's how things ended up:

  • Every 4th grade student will participate in the sundae incentive, but their progress will be personal - no display of who has passed which level.
  • There will be a pretest at the beginning of the year. Students who already know their multiplication facts will move directly on to division so they are earning a reward for new learnings. (No talk about what happens for kids who already know all of their facts.)
  • Teachers may individualize the tests to best meet the students' needs. (BIG shout out to my teammate on this one!!) We are going to find our students' levels (whether they are on addition, subtraction, multiplication or division) and support them as they grow through ten fact levels over the course of the year. At least in our classes there is no specific timeline to follow.
  • Students will not receive the sundae unless they demonstrate mastery of all 10 levels. Teachers may recognize mastery of individual levels as they see appropriate, and teachers may also recognize mastery beyond the original 10 levels.
  • There will be chances to earn the reward throughout the year instead of just 1 party at the end of November.
So, I don't like that I'm doing the incentive program. 

I do like that we will be able to individualize it to meet each student's learning level and that there is the opportunity for year-long growth not just a once & done program. I'm planning on having the kids help set their goals and coming up with a plan to meet those goals. 

And I'm hoping that next year I'll simply be able to just say no to a program like this.


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