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Posted by on in What If?

play

Those of us of a certain age, who are looking at the possibility of retirement in the not-too-distant future, think often about purpose. We typically know someone who retired and shortly thereafter passed away. Or someone who, despite counting down the years until retirement, was completely lost once it occurred. The missing element, we know, was purpose. These adults no longer felt a sense of purpose and it didn’t serve them well.

All human beings need to feel a sense of purpose – and that includes kids. Even young children, who don’t yet know the definition of the word, feel it when engaged in activities for which they have great enthusiasm. And older kids? How much more fulfilling life in general – and school, specifically – would be if they felt a real sense of purpose in what they were doing?

Purpose – having a long-term meaningful goal -- takes us beyond ourselves. Tony Wagner, whom I interviewed for Studentcentricity, along with William Damon and Jill Berkowicz, called purpose “transcendent.”

Following our discussion, Bill contributed these additional thoughts:

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Posted by on in What If?

Rae

Since the publication of Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset, the concept of a growth mindset has received a lot of attention and enthusiasm, especially from educators – and I’ve addressed it, more than once, on my radio programs. I think the concept is incredibly important but I somehow never considered it in relation to classroom management! However, Bill DeMeo and Jennifer Maichlin have, so I invited them, along with early childhood specialist Amanda Morgan, to talk with me about it on Studentcentricity. And what I learned was that it was pretty silly of me not to have seen the connection!

Here’s what Jennifer had to say following our conversation, which you can listen to here.

The most important thing about the application of the growth mindset principles is teaching the child (or adult) the actual science behind it.  If a person learns that the brain actually PHYSICALLY CHANGES (neurons grow and new synapses are created) when they apply the strategies of a growth mindset (persevere through obstacles, embrace challenges, value mistakes as learning opportunities), then they cannot use the fixed mindset as an excuse for overcoming a personal challenge. They begin to understand that, yes, they can choose the fixed mindset but it is within their power to change their behavior, and there are many ways to do so.  Teaching them the research (which can be done at any age) does not allow for excuses and provides empowerment. There is no excuse for not improving; even scientists say so!

Amanda added:

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Posted by on in What If?

change

By now, most educators have heard of Carol Dweck’s concept of mindset – and I suspect that all who know of it can see the wisdom in it. But, as with most concepts, there are myths and misunderstandings. To address some of those – and to explore the possibilities for helping students develop a growth mindset – I invited MaryCay Ricci, author of Mindsets in the Classroom, and Eduardo Briceño, CEO of Mindset Works, to Studentcentricity to talk with me.

In the opening pages of MaryCay’s book, she writes:

Breaking down the belief that intelligence is static can be challenging, but with the proper groundwork and education, little by little a mindset can shift. Expecting a shift in mindset immediately is not realistic; after all, some educators have had a fixed mindset belief for most of their lives. Even after someone has had a self-proclaimed mindset shift, she will need to make a conscious effort to maintain that belief.

Following our discussion, Eduardo summed up:

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Posted by on in What If?

Alone

The promotion of active learning is a big part of my work. Of course, student-centered learning is too. So it was rather upsetting when I came across Michael Godsey’s article, “When Schools Overlook Introverts,” about the potentially negative impact of active learning on introverts, and realized it had never crossed my mind. That’s why I invited Michael, along with Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert’s Way, to join me on Studentcentricity to answer the question in the title of this piece.

Following the discussion, Mike contributed these takeaways:

When I visited Grizzly Academy (a boarding school for at-risk students), I was really intrigued by how many of them mentioned how much they liked the quiet spaces and the ability to concentrate. I thought they would all be mourning the loss of their phones, too, but they almost all looked relieved to be rid of them, which I think is related to the desire for a quiet place without interruption. Many of them also mentioned that they had been diagnosed with ADHD/ADD and been prescribed drugs, but they felt much better just being at Grizzly. That made me really wonder about the potential cruelty of overstimulating some students and then blaming and medicated them, rather than fixing the environment. 

I've observed a wide range of schools over the past year or two, and the "mainstream" public schools are, by far, the most energetic, noisy, and social. The private schools and charter schools (both exclusive or for at-risk kids) have environments that are far more conducive to introverted students. I don't exactly know what conclusions to make from this, but the contrast was almost shocking. 

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Posted by on in Studentcentricity

Saras bookWhen the children in your class are facing adversity in ways you’ve never experienced – or possibly can’t even imagine – how are you supposed to relate to them? Considering how important the relationship between teacher and student is to academic and future success, you’ll want to know what these children need from you and how to provide it. So I invited Sara Langworthy, author of Bridging the Relationship Gap, psychology professor Ross Thompson, and educator Heidi Veal to Studentcentricity to talk about bridging the relationship gap with children facing adversity.

The conversation, which you can listen to here, was enormously insightful and informative. I was furiously taking notes but I simply wasn’t able to keep up with all of the wonderful thoughts these panelists offered. Among the key words were stability, consistency, and predictability. This is what these children most need. Sara also suggested that, once we’ve established trust with them, we be “constantly curious” about our students in order to maintain a relationship.

Afterward, she added:

When working with children facing adversity, it's important to change our thinking from "What's wrong with you?" to "What happened to you?" Being curious about children's lives, and opening yourself to learning from them and their experiences can strengthen your relationships with them. It's important to be caring and consistent with young children facing adversity by acknowledging their experiences, and working every day to be a source of stability they can learn to trust. 

Heidi had a great deal to say after our discussion:

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