I tell students that success in our class means everyday you leave better than you showed up. And to leave better means you learned at least one thing about algebra. It doesn’t matter if you have an A or an F, that simply measures how you have done in the past – but today you are success if you can learn one thing.
Everyday I write the goal for the days lesson on the board. The goal could be to simplify rational expressions, but I always remind the students that the actual goal is to learn at least one thing about algebra.
I tell students to look for things they don’t understand and be excited when they encounter them because it is precisely those things that are going to make them a success. If I’m helping a student and they get it – they go from a place or not knowing to knowing, I tell them “good job, you’re a success today, keep it up”.
At the end of class I always recap the day for the final couple minutes, and I provide them with time to reflect on what they learned.
Look I guess what I’m saying is that you want to define success in such a way that allows every student to feel good about themselves everyday, regardless of past performance.