Students that you teach or coach should be rewarded for their pursuit of excellence. I do not define excellence as being a perfect score on an assignment or assessment. I do not define it as winning the first place trophy at a tournament. In general, what I stress is that students should follow two simple rules. First, they should enjoy what they are doing. Second, they should try to do the best that they can in everything that they do.
Whether teaching in the classroom or doing online tutoring, I focus on my two rules. It is my job to inspire a love of learning in general and a love of mathematics in particular. I try and develop creative ways to make learning fun. From the beginning, I help students develop a plan for success. In this plan, the focus is on self-improvement. If a student devotes their time and energy to improving their performances, then I feel that they are successful. This means that they are in pursuit of excellence. It is the pursuit of excellence that I reward. Although I am proud when a student achieves a perfect score, they know that I am always proud of them if they are constantly striving to improve. I work at creating a positive learning environment where students become active participants in each lesson. They are encouraged to ask questions. I praise them for being inquisitive and for engaging in the lessons that I am teaching. I work at developing a solid foundation and using that foundation to build the knowledge of the course they are studying.
As a mathematics coach, I integrate all of the things that I use as a teacher. I know that each student’s ultimate goal is to achieve a perfect score in one of the mathematics events (Number Sense, Calculator Applications, or Mathematics). I also know that they want to be champions. From the beginning, I stress that the pursuit of excellence is more important then actually winning. They need to focus on developing skills to improve constantly. They need to become an integral part of the team. Relationships that they develop with teammates and competitors are just as important as competing. They are rewarded for doing their best at practices and at each tournament that they attend. Each student develops a plan for success. They realize that participating on the mathematics team will provide them with many benefits, such as an increase in scholarship opportunities for high school students. Performance in their mathematics courses will be greatly improved. Students will also excel on standardized tests and achievement tests. Working under pressure will help them in college and in their careers in the future.
As they learn how to self-analyze, they learn that the main reward for pursuing excellence does not come from me. They learn that the satisfaction they receive from improving is going to impact their future in a positive way. Self-gratification will bring them more joy then what I will ever be able to offer.