My Positive And Negative Experiences With Motivation In Elementary School

1510 words - 6 pages

For years, students, parents, teachers and other curious individuals have wondered if grades are the proper motivational tool for students. From one teacher’s standpoint, my grandmother, who was a high school math teacher for over 30 years, has always told me in years past that grades are a false sense of achievement or failure. And she defiantly did not believe in giving tests and engraving the score in her grade book so administrators could determine which of her students had the potential for a successful career and which ones would be flipping burgers. Then there was Mrs. South (not her real name), my third grade teacher. I’m a firm believer that she measured the success of her students by how many “A” grades she could ink in her grade book. Were her grades a motivational factor? Sometimes. Should her grades have been a motivational factor? Sometimes. Just like the age old saying goes, “There is a time and place for everything.” The same holds true in determining when grades can be a positive motivational tool with students. Let me explain.
My first two examples reflect my opinion as to why grades were not the primary motivational tool. I was in the Union Public School system stationed in Tulsa, OK. Yes, I use the word stationed because my grade school was run like a military school. Or at least at a young age, I felt like it was. I attended Darnaby Elementary, which is known as the most competitive grade school in the Union school district, both academically and athletically. As young students we were driven hard and high standards were set for us, even in our P.E. class.
At the beginning of each school year we knew that as soon as we walked into the gymnasium we were going to be measured on how many repetitions we could do in push-ups, pull-ups, how far we could run and how fast. Did we dread it? Not really. Mr. John was nothing like Brother Bill, as reflected by Mike Rose in “I Just Wanna Be Average.” Mr. John was not a “troubled and unstable man” his voice did not rise in “paranoid accusations” and he never would “lose control and shake or smack us” (351). Yet, he was able to motivate us in a positive way. Mr. John our P.E. teacher, had a goal for us and the students had the same goal. At the end of each school year, there was an annual track competition between all 13 elementary schools in the Union district and our goal was to win the over-all competition. Not to win by a few seconds or a few points, but to win by a land-slide. Did our dedication in P.E. class pay off? You bet it did. Our school won the track competition for the 5 years I was there. Although our winning streak was bitter-sweet. The school board felt it was necessary for Mr. John to be transferred to one of the other Union schools that needed help with their physical education program. My point is, getting an “A” in P.E. was not what motivated us, it was our goal at the end of the year. Getting the “A” on our report card was the additional blue ribbon for...

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