This is where I have been successful for the past 16 years. I push everyone to do the project. I plead, I beg, I sometimes yell, I make some kids feel guilty -- anything to get them to do great work. Not everyone cares for this, but everyone does good work and some do great work. I hear other teachers say, “Well, it is good to fail” or “We should have planned better. We never finished the project” and those are good lessons to learn. However, my class is one of those where students are pushed, where students constantly revise their work, and where students have a great exhibition of beautiful work that is on time. Everyone is successful in my classroom, not just the high flyers or the intrinsically motivated. Everyone.
I admit that sometimes I push too hard. Some students prefer to get a “C” rather than me pushing them to doing great work. Tough! That’s why kids don’t teach and I do. I want my own kids to be pushed like I was and anyone else that has done great work. There is a place for “Kind, Specific, and Helpful” and there is a place for, “You can do better than that. Show me, don’t tell me. Let’s try it again.” I use all of those phrases and my website is full of great student work from all my students. I need to push everyone. It is what I do. I’ll try to be nicer, but I know what works and it is not grading, infantilizing, and letting students off the hook.