To Party, Or Not To Party...That Is The Question!
It was in that moment that I understood how skewed his view was, as well as most of America is when it comes to kids with emotional disabilities. Special education teachers are the marines of educators, doing more with less, and doing whatever it takes.
Self-efficacy is a buzz word that teaching gurus love to throw around but I can’t help but agree that students will work harder and learn better when they feel they are able to complete a task. My kids are in 9th grade and reading at less than half their grade level; getting students to buy into education is really hard and really important for me. When a student feels in his heart that he can’t do something, trying is a waste of effort and isn’t it easier to not complete an assignment then face the criticism of getting it wrong?
I started the whole party idea about halfway through the school year because I not only had dreadfully low test grades, but half my class wasn’t bothering to even take the weekly quiz. They just didn’t care enough about the grade, because they assumed they would fail anyway.
My beau’s outrage is pretty normal for society, why should kids be bribed to take tests? I could say that no, you don’t bribe general education kids because they either know the intrinsic value of education or care enough about what their family thinks in order to succeed. Coming from general ed you can’t help but think that all schools are like general ed, and I made the same mistake before I set foot in my special ed classroom. Maybe class parties to celebrate passed tests is a desperate move on my part, acknowledging the difficulty in reaching these students and offering tangible rewards like soda and popcorn when praise alone is regarded with suspicion and neutrality. I told my boyfriend that no, I shouldn’t have to bribe these kids to study and do their work, but I will because I want them to do as well as they are able, and even surprise themselves.
P.S. Do you think general education students earn high marks without non-academic incentives? Think for a minute and you’ll realize that plenty of parents bribe their kids; my parents gave me $5 for each A on my report card, some kids got a car for graduating. My students are poor, many don’t live with their parents, and education itself offers more stick and less carrot.