Lagniappe Rules!

Starting today, I am creating a new post category called “Lagniappe” (pronounced ‘lan-YAP’). If you are unfamiliar with the term, it’s a Creole word meaning “something extra”. If you order a dozen of something and receive thirteen, that’s lagniappe. I love lagniappe! This morning I went to Starbucks to get my coffee and ham sandwich, and this is what I what I was pleasantly surprised with:
[frame align=”left”]Lagniappe[/frame]
I know it’s not much, but little things like this really make me happy. Someone took the time out of their busy morning to make my breakfast super-cute and I appreciate that! Thanks to the great baristas at the Barataria Starbucks for making my breakfast extra-special! I think it’s important to teach kids that they must find ways to make their work special and memorable. My graduating seniors will soon enter a very competitive job market and must know how to make themselves stand out to potential employers. Consequently, I teach my students that in order to get an “A” in my class, they must go a step further than what is expected. Here is the picture analogy for grades that I’ve been using for the past seven years:

Lagniappe 4
I always discuss ordering a cheeseburger from your favorite burger joint as a metaphor for how to earn a grade in my class (I adapted this model from one I saw in an elementary rubric book). An F is represented by a meat patty–no bun, no veggies, cheese or anything. This meets little to none of our expectations for a good cheeseburger, so it represents an “F”. I even ask the students how they would feel if they got a plain meat patty if they ordered a cheeseburger. They usually say that they would be really upset or disappointed. That’s exactly how I feel when kids turn in terrible work! It goes on like that. A good burger with cheese, veggies and everything expected represents a “B”. You may notice that by meeting ALL expectations, students in my classes can expect to receive a “B”. In order to earn an “A”(represented by a double cheeseburger!) students must exceed my expectations, going above and beyond what I ask them to do in and out of class. This philosophy is not just what I expect from my students but also how I judge my own work. For example, I’ve added an “about me” slide to all of my recent presentations that looks something like this:

Ever since I started formally recognizing “lagniappe” as a part of my teaching, presenting, and blogging style, I now recognize lagniappe in many forms in my daily life. It’s like when you buy a new car and begin to notice people all around you driving the same vehicle. So, I will begin blogging about examples of lagniappe in appreciation of those special individuals I interact with everyday who put a bit of “oomph” in what they do. The new “lagniappe” category will also serve to reinforce to my students and readers how awesome it is to get (and give) a little something extra. Challenge yourself to share a lagniappe with someone today!

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