Sunday, July 22, 2012

Fourteen Days to TEACHER HEAVEN!

Fourteen DAYS is All it Took to Fall in LOVE... with the Super Improver Wall

I have had the pleasure of sharing a specific Super Improver Wall story with audiences at two conferences now. At the Union, MO conference only those in the Advanced WBT group heard my story. I also know that I have eluded to my stories in several blog and forum posts... so it is now time to write it all out!

In this post I am going to lay it all out. So those that have already heard my story will still want to tune in. My story starts with learning about the SIW in Wichita, KS and ends the before the last day of school!

Monday, April 30th, 2012: Wichita, KS WBT conference

I didn't know that this conference would change my teaching life (and hopefully the lives of my students) so very much. I was able to refresh my little bit of knowledge of WBT, but most importantly... I learned about the Super Improver Wall. Coach B talked about how to set up the wall and how to get the students engaged. I was hooked but still didn't understand the full power!

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012: Back to School... but not my classroom.

The day I returned to my school I was out of the classroom for collaboration with my grade level. I had decided to start the SIW with only 17 days left of school! I needed something to keep them on their toes! Our school does a great job of recognizing students through out the year but the main programs we use were at an end. We work with the Kiwanis Club to recognize monthly TERRIFIC Kids. (Thoughtful, Enthusiastic, Respectful, Responsible, Inclusive, Friendly, Inquisitive, and Caring) We also have Weekly recognition of PAWS students (Prepared, Arrive on Time, work hard, Stay Focused).

I spent the evening printing WHITE/Rookie cards for each student. 

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012
In the morning, WITH MY KIDS IN THE ROOM... I stapled white placards with their names to the PAWS bulletin board. Boy did I have their attention... I WAS TAKING DOWN THE PAWS... but their names were on the board... is it good... is it bad. Then I only put up the word rookie (mainly because I forgot to print the other words on color).

Bulletin Board with PAWS!
Ta Da! Super Improver Wall!

I talked to them about PAWS and Terrific Kids being finished for the year but I still wanted to see those good behaviors. THEN I told them that at this time of year I get sad. "Tell Mrs. Schuler: Don't Be SAD" I wiped my eyes for reinforcement.

Then I told them in the past my fifth graders (this is my first year with third graders) have stopped trying to learn. They didn't care anymore. "Do you want Mrs. Schuler to be sad?" "NO WAY"
I then explained the SIW and told them with only 11 days left not many people will move up the wall... "unless...oh never mind" "WHAT? ... unless what Mrs. Schuler" LOVING IT!

"Unless I see MAJOR improvement in line behavior, handwriting neatness, friendly behavior... Oh I am not just looking for GOOD behavior... I am looking for IMPROVEMENT!"

They were hooked! I started Read to Self.. and EVERYONE of them was reading silently without attitude or faking... time to put some stars on the board!

Now... I must digress from the SIW wall for awhile for you to get the FULL affect... remember we are still on DAY 1!

I came close to tears on this day! In addition to starting the Super Improvers Wall ... I had also recently introduced the Crazy Professor Reading game! I had been introducing the steps one or two at a time. Today while playing the kids were REALLY enjoying the Q&A part. I had just turned away from them to look at the SIW when I heard a voice I didn't recognize.

 I swiveled around and saw one of my quiet little girls nearly jumping up and down grinning ear to ear as she asked a WONDERFUL higher level thinking question with a DRAMATIC voice and AWESOME gestures. At first I was speechless! I quickly recovered and called "Class Class" They nearly suffered whiplash in there eagerness to comply! That also threw me off! I said "Class I am so excited our THIRD super improver sticker for the day is AWESOME. This student is usually very quiet and I have to REALLY lean in to hear her." I described what I had seen... and she starts smiling. When I call her name you would have thought I had just crowned her Miss America. At that moment I truly saw the value of the SIW ... this little girl had been hiding in the shadows. When I pulled her out she SPARKLED! Her effort the rest of the day blew me away... she earned herself another sticker... I would have given her more but I didn't want to over do it on our first SIW day!

The next sticker awarded went to this little girls Crazy Professor game partner. I started by saying that at first I thought this person's enthusiasm was a direct result of our last Super Improver. (Before I could say anything ... the little girl started jumping up and down tapping her partner saying... "she is talking about you... you are a super improver... isn't it wonderful!" I am already tearing up again. What a moment!

Friday, May 4th - Wheels started turning

I was getting really excited about the success of the Super Improver Wall in my class room! There was ONE student I hadn't reached yet. He wasn't in the room all the time. This friend... his name will be Max for the purpose of this blog. Max is a student with Autism. Every time he entered my room from a special class he would wander around make distracting sounds, lay on others desks, and talk to his buddies. You could sometimes see the frustration on the faces of my students when he walked in the room.

I was in the middle of a math lesson when Max walked in. He started to wander but his eyes caught the Super Improver Wall. He was frozen. He stared at the board for awhile, then he blurted out... "What is that?" My students and I explained this to him and he silently went back to his seat. WOW! You could tell his mind was working.

Monday, May 7th - WOW!

Same time as yesterday, Max comes into the classroom. You can see him start to wander... but he stops again looks at the board and goes DIRECTLY TO HIS SEAT! I am shocked. The students looked at me and back at Max. I was so overcome I almost went on with my lesson. My kids started waving their hands like crazy. They saw I wasn't reacting to their hands so a couple blurted out ... doesn't Max deserve a star? So of course, he got it and was so proud! The Super Improver Wall had hooked this kiddo!

FAST FORWARD: Things are going swimmingly! Stars are flying!

Monday, May 14th - SO MUCH IN ONE DAY!

I decided that I would introduce the Genius Ladder today... no big deal right...nine days left of school. Oh yeah, today is also dress rehearsal for the third grade music program taking place TONIGHT!

(For more about my Genius Ladder Lesson read my previous posts)

My Genius Ladder

Below is an a part of a previous blog ... but it is related to the Super Improver Story:

[ As we were reviewing, Max back to the classroom from his special class. Max sometimes has trouble transitioning. He will often cause a disruption in class. When he entered this time he knew he couldn't disrupt because we were doing gestures. He was watching and hadn't yet started to color his Pokemon pictures. Just as he was about to grab for the coloring page... I asked for volunteers to lead the class in the lesson for a noun. He was interested. One of my girls came up and did an EXCELLENT job for reteaching "What is a noun?" I asked for another WBT leader.

Max raised his hand. I hesitated. Often when I call on Max, he takes the opportunity to make his classmates laugh. I sensed something different this time, so I asked him, "Do you know what I am asking you to do if you come up here?" He said, "YES! You want me to lead the class in "What is a noun?" I was impressed and let him come to the front.

He immediately said "Class". My kids giggled and then responded "YES". "Mirrors"... more giggling "Mirrors". He paused looked at me and I nodded. Then he did the WHOLE THING. "What is a noun? A noun is a person, a place or a thing" The kids mirror but some were making the gesture for "idea". In my classroom we added to the definition of a noun. We say "A noun is a person, a place, a thing, or an idea" Max had not been in the room when I taught the added part. He said "I didn't ask for that gesture" I stepped in to inform him what they were doing and he said "Oh, Okay! Mirrors ... and an idea" Then he sat down. There was a 15-20 second pause and then my whole class erupted in applause. They were so proud of their classmate.

 I was moved to tears. Most of the kids saw this! I tried to move on to review Sentences but my kids hands went in the air like crazy. They all wanted to know why I hadn't given Max a SUPER IMPROVER sticker. They were right... and they were SO PROUD OF HIM! I was proud of them. I gave him his star and we all gave him a "37 finger WOO" ... This was Max's idea! I was able to move on and I still had his attention. I asked for a Whole Brain Leader for Sentence. He raised his hand. Usually when he raises his hand he will start calling out my name if he thinks I am ignoring him. This time he sat with his hand PATIENTLY raised. I was tempted to call on him ... but I wanted to give others a chance. He handled this beautifully. He mirrored the other Student Leaders. When it was time to line up for Art, he didn't complain that I had not called on him. Instead he went to a classmate that had been called on and said "Hey Andrew, you did a really good job with your gestures" I was floored... not only had he participated, waited patiently and showed his comprehension of noun and sentence, he had also noticed another students success!]

Max decided that he didn't like the second color on the SIW wall blue... he wanted it green. So since I wasn't attached to my colors yet... I rearranged! 

That night as the students were coming to my room for the music program I was able to share the SIW wall with several parents. A lot of parents were able to see the SUPER IMPROVER WALL! This was magic. I got to hear the kids explain the Wall to their parents. Even the kids with just one star explained the wall with pride. I just LOVE this! I am still in absolute wonderment that kids are working SO hard for stickers on a piece of paper... but at the same time I can see that they are NOT just stickers and papers to them... they are trophies that they will hold in their heart! WOW!

May 23rd - Day before last day of school

Wow! I wasn't ready for this! The last weeks of school had been so smooth thanks to the SUPER IMPROVER WALL. The day was a perfectly normal school day... we held instruction just as we had the last three weeks! (Last day was a planned celebration). I was feeling bummed because all my kids had come close to 10 stars but hadn't done it yet. It happened someone reached the GREEN level... notice I say green and not Phenom. You guessed it! Max was my ONLY student to reach the phenom level... and he was so proud of himself. Thus the reason my Phenom level will probably ALWAYS be Green!


  1. I love the SIW, Deanna!! And, I love your personal story about your experiences with it!!!!

  2. What a testimony to the power of WBT! Thanks for sharing. This will by first year using the Super improver wall and I am excited.
    Think all night…..Teach all day

  3. I got goose bumps reading this post. I am working on my SIW today! I cannot wait to see my students come in on the first day and ask what it is and I keep them hanging until week 2!! The MW crew is pretty excited to have someone with so much experience to call if we have any questions!!

  4. Ashley,

    Check out my forum post at WBT about how I plan to introduce my Super Improver wall this year!

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