Guest Blog Post by Chrissy DeBono
Chrissy DeBono is an Advanced Math Teacher at Cottonwood Elementary in the Vail School District and a 2017 Arizona Teacher of the Year Ambassador for Excellence.
One of my mathematicians sits at her seat visibly frustrated. She’s been working on a challenging task for the past few minutes. I watch and wait to see what she’ll do. I hear the words I dread the most, “I quit.”
What makes teaching so rewarding is playing a special part in unleashing a child’s unlimited potential. In that lies the challenge of teaching students what true success encompasses.
As a beginner teacher, I believed my students were successful when academic achievement was reached. I loved my data chart and keeping track of each of my students’ progress, proudly displaying it for all to see.
In the last eleven years, I have learned how powerful a role model I can be for students journeying towards personal success because at the end of the day, success is more than a tangible gold star sticker, a prize-worthy A+, or a promotion. I believe success is a feeling of personal accomplishment towards a goal. We feel success when we move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.
Carol Dweck’s research has greatly enhanced my instructional practices and educational philosophy. When we use a growth mindset in the classroom, my students and I celebrate success daily. As a math teacher, encouraging students to look beyond their preconceived limitations and strive higher is most rewarding.
Success is not accidental. My students have become successful through efforts in perseverance, commitment, and hard work. In my classroom hangs the words of Albert Einstein, “A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.”
When my students fail, make mistakes, and struggle through difficult tasks, I am there reminding them that this is exactly what success encompasses. I have learned in my tenure that is OK for my students to fail. Without failure, my students cannot grow.
So what do I do when my students succeed? That is the fun part. There are so many different ways to celebrate success.
In my classroom, my students love:
- Personal notes/phone calls home
- Wearing the Mathematician Medal around campus
- Verbal praise
- Class wide incentives/celebrations
- Stickers, prize box items
- A visit to the front office to share their great news
- Being the teacher for the day!
- Choosing what the class will study next
No matter the day, no matter the subject, students across our state are achieving greatness and succeeding in their personal endeavors. It’s our job as teachers to encourage and celebrate that success.