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Nov. 30, 2017

A Lively performance

by Eric Feigen, Staff Writer
Engaging high students is one of a teacher's greatest challenges. Robin Lively, the latest addition to the Blair math department, uses acrobatics as way to motivate her class and foster good study habits in and out of school. If all of her students receive a least C on a major assignment, Lively performs a cartwheel as a reward for the class' hard work. This innovative approach to teaching effectively prompts students to study more and cultivates a fun and positive learning environment.
 Math teacher Robin Lively redefines motivational methods by performing acrobatics for students​ Victoria Sampson
Math teacher Robin Lively redefines motivational methods by performing acrobatics for students​

Lively grew up with the drive to lift spirits and motivate the people around her. From a young age, she performed a variety of acrobatics as a high school cheerleader. As a parent, Lively was pulled back into the line of duty, developing the tradition of doing cartwheels whenever one of her children scored during a sports match. "The idea of doing cartwheels just came to me when my first of four kids started playing soccer. I developed the tradition to do a cartwheel whenever one of my kids scored during a game. Lacrosse games were murder though, there were a lot more goals than in soccer," Lively jokes when recalling how she got the idea of using cartwheels as a motivational method.

The appropriation of the idea for classroom use came to Lively five years ago when she was teaching at Thomas Sprigg Wootton High School. "It's really a silly idea but students love it, they love seeing their teacher do a cartwheel even if it is a bad one," Lively reflected. Recently, Lively performed a cartwheel for Nathaniel Sturm's class, but has yet to perform one for one of her own classes. "None of my classes have gotten all A's, B's and C's on a test yet. The instance I did it [cartwheel] in Mr. Sturm's room was to reward two students who scored well on an assignment," Lively explained.

Lively utilizes this creative form of positive reinforcement to push her students to perform better on tests and major assignments. While other teachers use strategies like offering candy or instructing with harsh discipline, Lively's use of acrobatics provides a unique and effective method of motivation that has not been seen before in the Blair community. One of Lively's 9th grade students Betelehem Metike expressed her opinion on Lively's cartwheels. "I am happy that she was willing to do that [acrobatics] for us and overall it motivates the class to do better," Metike said.

When the former Blair cheerleading coach Sarah Fillman heard about Lively's teaching method, she thought the idea was exciting and new. "As far as extrinsic motivation goes, what better way to motivate students then to see their teacher do flips; who needs candy when you can see your teacher upside down?" Fillman exclaimed. While some teachers struggle to inspire their students, Lively teaches with a twist to help her students reach their maximum potential.



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