Validation...

It doesn't matter how old we are, we all want validation and praise.

Today I put my "Party Buxx" reward system fully into place. Each class can purchase rewards with the Party Buxx they earn. They earn these by doing what they should be doing. For instance, today we were looking over vocabulary and reviewing. Every time someone answered correctly, they received a Party Buxx for the class. Eventually students will choose how to spend their Buxx. This activity made me feel, for one of the few times this year, that I was really getting through, teaching. I was validated by their excitement to get the right answer. I know that part of their excitement was to earn their Buxx, but one student said, I am really learning," which was amazing...

We all need validation. We need to be told that we are doing a good job, that we look nice, that we are appreciated and so on. When validation isn't occurring, negative attitudes and actions prevail.

I think of this school year at work. The beginning of the year started of rough, which is really an understatement. It set the tone for chaos at the beginning of the year that we are just now starting to pull out of. Half the year has passed and we are slowly moving forward. I don't know if big changes will happen this year, but I do know that it has been one of the hardest and part of that comes from the lack of validation. I am not talking about myself necessarily, but rather education and educators as a whole.

Teachers are constantly in the firing line. We are held to ridiculous standards and are constantly being told that we are failing. If students are learning, then we are not failing. The process of learning takes time and children learn at different rates. My fear is that we are not teaching children to necessarily think, but rather be prepared for an arbitrary test that will be given to assess their arbitrary knowledge. We're not providing well rounded educations, we are not providing opportunities to think. Today, as we were trying to recollect a vocabulary word, I asked students to describe what they saw. Through the process of this description, they were able to figure out the word. Sometimes it takes talking through an idea to come to a conclusion and that takes time...time we are many times not given.

When test scores come out and, according to a random set of scores, we are "failing," what does that mean? We can't unteach children. They don't lose knowledge. Any movement forward along the knowledge scale is success. More importantly, I would love to focus more on the thinking scale. Common sense and the ability to think critically are two of the most important skills and we are lacking in opportunities to teach them. Students in math are so focused on the answer their calculator gives them that they don't realize if its absurd. Only when it's pointed, might they see it.

Validation is so important. If we could spend more time teaching and validating what students learn, they would feel more confident in their ability to take risks. Validating them gives them the road map and the confidence to try (and maybe even fail for a bit.) Failure is a part of learning and learning is the path to knowledge. According to Helen Keller, "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing" and a little validation can make students willing and able to navigate the adventure rather than sitting on the sidelines watching their life go by...

To watch Validation, click below...it might just change how you see things...


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