Even before stepping into my classroom, my students already have an A+ as a grade. It is up each of them to maintain that A+.
The way I see it, in the Middle/High School years, very little academic content motivates students more than their social life. At that age, a day can be the single worse or the single best day of their lives. What they learned in math or science on any given day is overshadowed by what their best friend said or did, or even what that special someone posted on their Facebook profile that morning. Each student’s relationship/status with their own circle of friends is above anything else.
I am not claiming students don’t learn. They do. It’s just that there are other more important things going on in their lives that trump any academic information we try to give them. This is where is gets really easy for me. Students come into a computer lab hungry for information, one they can use to get better at their social “job/life”. Teaching Communications Media in the Middle School, I get to walk them through how to create graphics, publish information via their own website, and how to create voice/video recordings they can then share to the world via YouTube or Vimeo or their own website. In the Digital Moviemaking class in the High School, students learn about making movies, creating stories and how to interpret composition in still images as well as images in motion. These two classes that I teach already engage the student even before I say one word. They are hungry to know more. This I take advantage of!
This is why my students have an A+ when they come into my classroom. They walk into my class with intense interest and motivation. They are willing to make really incredible mistakes during the first few weeks, and their work gets better as time moves on. They work on the creative as well as the technical, simultaneously and interchangeably. They stick to deadlines, they write, they edit, they manage themselves, they find ways to move the story forward even if one whole scene must be taken out during post production. They make decisions, they mess up, they ask questions, and go right back to make it better. I sit back and I enjoy!