Watch your students at recess, if a kid scores a goal, makes a touchdown, or hits a jump shot, does he throw his hands in the air and puff up his chest, trying to emulate a pro athlete? Or... does he run over to his teammates for a quick high-five to celebrate?
To make competition healthy in school, we must create an environment that celebrates winners and losers in a supportive manner. Will the winner smile proudly and give everyone a humble thumbs up? Will everyone else be happy for their friend who won? Is the classroom a place where learning is the important thing and the contest simply makes it a bit more fun?
Today, my class played a quick game online. They worked out a few long division problems on whiteboards, then clicked their answer choice on the computers (Kahoot!) The goal was to simply practice the skill of division. The winner was unexpected. The response from the class was outstanding! The kids who thought they should have won were genuinely happy for the winner! There were no sore losers.
And the kid who won! He smiled and said, "Thank you," to everyone who congratulated him.