Success Matters

Just something to consider in your pursuit of being the best you can be. Keep using the most cutting edge, progressive techniques. Keep pouring your heart into knowing your students. Keep keeping up with current education buzzwords and trends.

But don’t forget this one little word that can make or break it all:

Success.

Success matters.

As in, doing well, being right, feeling like “I can do this!”. Those are really important feelings that we need to balance across from the challenge questions and higher order thinking.

As you surely know, it’s really difficult to keep putting in the effort if you’re getting nothing back. Or worse, if it feels like you get punched in the face every time you try.

Students have these feelings too.

If they aren’t experiencing success in your classroom, they won’t want to be there. Psychologically, they might be incapable of being there.

So it’s okay to do something “easy” one day, or something “fun”. A Kahoot, a very guided worksheet, problems you can solve just by counting, situations where you can’t be wrong. We tend to feel bad about these things, but we shouldn’t, as long as we’re using them purposefully.

It’s also a really good way to start a lesson: make the first question a barrier-free entry point. Dan Meyer begins Three Act Tasks by getting students to take a guess: “Give me a number you know is too high. Give me a number you know is too low.” You could say infinity and zero every time, and you’d probably be right.

They don’t start high jump with the bar at the world record height. It’s okay, even on the world stage, if everyone makes it over in the first round.

It feels good to do good. And doing good makes us want to do more. Especially if we’re praised for the effort, not how smart we are.

In teaching, not Olympic high jump, the expectation is always that everyone can make it over the highest bar. Maybe not everyone will make it, but if we start at an attainable level and slowly raise the bar, step by step, at least we’ll improve our odds of success. And success matters.