Nobody expects you to play perfect, that’s impossible…but what we expect and you should expect from each other is a PERFECT EFFORT
“Perfect Effort” has made such a significant impact on student achievement with our work in schools. Have you ever interacted with an infant just trying to walk, talk, or learn to count? My bet is that you have never heard an adult respond by saying to the infant that he is wrong and should not do it that way again. Most likely you hear adult encouragement and support to reach these milestones.
Research states that the human brain scans for threat every three seconds. If it detects threat, it will do whatever possible to put up a barrier to protect. In classrooms across the country you see students rip papers, break pencils, ask for bathroom breaks, and overtly misbehave…. right in the middle of direct instruction! It correlates with the threat these children are feeling inside. Calling on them to solve, demanding they read the next two pages, asking them to come to the board and show the strategy they used to solve… All of these put up the wall to learning. Threat and fear will over-ride any learning opportunity every time.
But if we shift our thinking and use formative assessment as a way to encourage perfect effort in learning, we lessen the threat. These are opportunities for students to show their thinking which then creates new ideas and opportunities for teachers to capitalize. When we are only looking for perfect effort the students understand our intention is to help not harm.
With that being said, I am not an advocate for the belief that everyone gets a trophy. It is my bias that each individual has the ability to grow and learn through experiences. There is a place for summative assessment and there is also a place for perfect effort.