Celebrating “lightbulb moments”

Excerpted from “A Second Chance at Success” in Northwest Education magazine, by Bracken Reed

On any given day in one of Debbie Watkins’s seventh-grade math classes you might find a student standing under a giant lightbulb, calling a parent, family member, or guardian on an old white telephone attached to the wall. Occasionally, the entire class will turn to watch the student make the call. Other times they barely notice, it’s become so commonplace.

It may sound like a punishment, but it’s actually a unique reward. A student gets to turn the light bulb on when they’ve finally demonstrated mastery of a difficult concept, typically one that has been causing them grief for several weeks. Then they get to call an adult of their choosing to share the good news.

These lightbulb moments and celebratory phone calls are indicative of several things at the grade 6–8 Vallivue Middle School, just outside Caldwell, Idaho.


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