As we describe in our new book, Whole Brain Teaching; Fast Track: Seven Steps to Teaching Heaven our primary goal in WBT is to reward students for improvement, not ability. We praise excellent effort more than excellent work. We nourish growth rather than innate talent. Thus, every child, special ed to gifted, can be equally successful.
In traditional education, rewards for ability result in the same students winning recognition, year after year. Too often, our brightest kids skate by with minimum effort while less talented pupils bail out of a race that the system has taught them they can’t win.
For Step One in your journey to Teaching Heaven, create a Super Improver classroom display as described below. (For free Super Improver Graphics, download WBT 3.94 and see pages 252 onward, here.)
How do I set up my display?
In PreK-5th grade we suggest the animal levels, beginning with Turtle (0mph), the slowest animal and ascending to Peregrine Falcon (240mph), the fastest animal. AlphaHawk stands above them all as the highest level.
In 6th-12th we suggest the sports themed levels, beginning with Scrub and ascending to Living Legend. AlphaHawk also stands above them all as the highest level.
Each level is a different color, showing the level name and a number. This number shows how many stars a student needs to move up to the next level (read more about that in the next section).
How do I reward students for improvement?
As a teacher, your number one goal is to meet students at their level and help them to continuously improve. From our most gifted students to our most in need, the sole focus is to help students grow. To do that, you need to change our goggles. You’re not looking for good kids. You’re looking for improving kids. When you notice improvement, award the student with a star on their Super Improver card. Earn enough stars, as noted on each level card, move up to the next level.
Note: Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to look at Super Improver Ultra, a way to simplify the game for classes with large numbers of students.
The simplest way to begin is to choose one goal for the whole class. Let your students know that for the day, or during the math lesson, or whenever you choose, you will be looking for improvement in this one goal area. Then, when you notice an improving student, award them with a star on their card and celebrate!
You cannot pick an improvement goal for the whole class unless everyone can show growth in reaching that goal. Therefore, don’t use "quietly walking in the hall" as a class target, unless every student makes a ruckus when they leave the room. A common mistake that educators make with Super Improvers is rewarding good, rather than improved, behavior. “Look at how nicely Melvin writes! If he starts adding adjectives, he might get a star!” No star for Melvin unless his excellent writing skills improve. Ida’s handwriting is illegible; she has many virtues, but writing clearly isn’t one of them. But look here! Ida found a way to write more neatly! She’s arrived at the corner of Super Improver Lane and Personal Growth Blvd. Star her!
You can also work to weave opportunities for improvement into every lesson, every day. Want to improve transitions from one area to another? Use the Timer Game. Want to improve memorization of math facts or reading fluency? Use the Super Speed games. Think about how you can set and break records all day long.
Watch the video below to learn more.