Celebrating Successes: Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

By Justin Lim on June 8, 2010

"In my opinion, if a student aspires to be successful, he will have to be resilient." These exact words were spoken by one of my special education students just a few weeks ago. Even though we had been working on using precise academic language all year, I was impressed by the confidence, poise, and flawless delivery. After all, not only had he successfully answered my question, but he also used two vocabulary words that he had acquired way back during the first few months of school. It's times like these that remind me why I became a teacher.

The end of the school year is always a bittersweet time for me. On the one hand, there is a sense of accomplishment and pride that only comes after a year of struggles and successes. On the other hand, there is the sadness of knowing that next year, my kids won't be mine anymore. As the school year draws to a close, I would like to take this time to celebrate the numerous successes that we've all had and to give credit where credit is due.

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Thank you Scholastic for providing me with the privilege to share with the world the struggles and joys of being a teacher. I have always kept a teacher journal that I use to evaluate my experiences, but having to choose the very best moments to share with the world has really taught me to appreciate the practice of self-reflection. I've had the honor of working with an exceptionally gifted team of teacher advisors as well as an outstanding and professional team of Scholastic editors.

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Thank you to my readers, whose feedback is always uplifting. I've received a number of encouraging emails and comments, and as teachers, we know that sometimes we need a little bit of that!

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Most of all, thank you to my students, whom I dearly love and cherish. I have no doubt that you're going to make me proud. Indeed, you already have, many times over. Thank you for the laughs and for the memories. Thank you for giving me your absolute best, no matter how challenging the task. Thank you for teaching me just as much as I've taught you. 

As for me, next year holds a brand new array of opportunities and experiences. During the 2010-2011 school year, I will be serving not only Rosemead High School, but also the rest of the El Monte Union High School District as the District Literacy Coach. I will be spending three periods teaching in the morning, and the rest of the day I will be working with intervention teachers from EMUHSD's five high schools. It's a brand new position for us, so I don't quite know what to expect. What I do know though, is that just like every good educator, I'm going to do everything that I can to give our kids the very best!

For those of you who teach READ 180, I invite you to find me on the READ 180 Community and to join me in Orlando during the 2010 NSI!

To all of the dedicated teachers out there, whose trials and efforts often go unnoticed, let me close by saying that you are my personal heroes and heroines. I'm sure that there are more than a few of your students who would agree with me. After all, let us consider the words of Henry Adams, who once said, "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell when his influence stops."

Warmest regards,

Justin Lim

Rosemead High School

El Monte Union High School District

Comments

I came across your article on collaboration while working on an assignment to clear my credential. You're a very inspiring teacher! Thanks for what you do.. I intend to read your other articles and hope to connect with and learn more from you. :-)

My formal mentor in UCSD Extension's Clear Credential Program is the special ed coordinator of my school. Like you (if I got you right), she currently doesn't teach in the classroom but has a wealth of wisdom and teaching experience that I have drawn inspiration from.

All the best!

Justin,

I just completed my 1st year using READ180. I was wondering how you use incentives and rewards in your classroom.

Marijo

[Edit: Response]

Hi Marijo,

To be quite honest, the only incentive system I use in my class is an incentive chart with stamps.

What I do very effectively though, is use specific immediate positive feedback. I've found this to be the most effective in shaping student motivation and behavior. I use the word shaping because it takes place slowly as students experience small, but meaningful and concrete results. Also, when the feedback is immediate and specific, other students will seek to copy the behavior that is being praised. I rely on this more than anything else. As a result, the rewards are actually all intrinsic. I'm just making explicit the good things that my students are doing.

On occasion though, I will have an administrator come to my class and recognize students who are doing an outstanding job. This is really more just to celebrate though, than to try to elicit change in student motivation.

Regards,

Justin

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