We talk a lot about how to increase student achievement and improve learning in our classrooms.
A lot of these conversations are centered around what needs to be added or changed in a classroom, NOT what should be removed. Many of the practices that still exist in classrooms across the country are not only outdated, but they are making progress and growth nearly impossible for schools and districts.
Here are 7 ways that you might be making progress and learning impossible for your students.
1. Lecturing too much.
If you didn't already know I'm not a huge fan of Lecturing. Not only does the research not support it (at all), but it is archaic, disengaging for students, and after only 10 minutes, you've lost over 50% of your students. Any longer and those numbers go up.
I truly don't care how good you think you are at lecturing, this is simply an ineffective practice when used on a daily basis or as the primary means of instruction. If you do this more than a few times a week, please stop. Direct instruction and lecturing have their limited place, and I'm not saying they should never happen in a classroom, but they should come in the form of short, purposeful, and targeted discussions with learners, not the tired and broken "sit and get" model of instruction.
[bctt tweet="If some of this hits a little too close to home, it's ok. It is okay for us to recognize that our classroom, or instruction, or management is not quite perfect. We can always improve....
When You Teach Something You Get To Learn It Twice - Jim Kwik
Cameron, a former student of mine, who is now in college, commented on my recent post about efficient and effective learning titled Too Much What, Not Enough How. Here's what he wrote on Facebook:
As a student who graduated with a GPA well above 4.0, I completely agree specifically with the point about students teaching subject-matter. Most of what made me successful was not studying - I rarely did that - but teaching other students, and in doing so, closing gaps in and solidifying what I knew. I tutored other students in almost every single class I took throughout my high school career, especially the science courses. That was my secret to success and I didn't even realize it until senior year. The feeling you get when you help someone grasp an idea they struggled with is an awesome feeling, too.
But Why Is Teaching Such An Effective Learning Strategy?
If you closely analyze and dissect Cameron's comment you can identify at least 4 aspects that made his strategy of teaching others to learn it yourself super effective. They are Active Learning, Deeper Learning, Efficient Learning, and Emotional Learning....
Tripping on 'shrooms in Prague once I stopped by an art gallery window and saw it. It was an orange dog; the tiniest of canines. A stain of fluorescent orange paint in the bottom right corner of a sizable painting of some natural scenery. I remember the grass, the trees, and the people in it but in that moment all I could focus on was the strange orange dog.
I was 23, window shopping, and laughing too hard at a silly little orange dog on an otherwise green painting. Later, I was examining people's faces on the metro ride back to the Airbnb-style room I booked. Being aware I'm influenced I felt I could look into anyone's soul and know who they were. It was like a superpower that allowed me to see them for who they really were; if they were good or bad.
And in case the good people in my school district's HR department are reading this occurred 17 years ago, happened before I became a teacher, and was the last time I used psychedelics. It's just that I still remember that dang dog and wonder if my memory would be so vivid had my consciousness not been altered. For some reason, my mind decided it was significant enough to keep and maybe it uses it somehow to this day without me even realizing.
Using More Of The Brain
Steve Jobs, Richard Feynman, Jimi Hendrix, Jean-Paul Sartre, Bill Gates, John Coltrane, and The Beatles have 2 things in-common; they changed the world by being the GOATs (greatest of all time) of their respective crafts and they operated outside of the realm of conditioned and compliant thinking. Oh, and they all used psychedelics, so that would make it three things I suppose....
There is a question that I’m getting more and more at workshops and trainings and that is "how do I motivate my students to work?" I hate to break it to you, but there is no “magic bullet” solution to this. Every student is going to have their own solution to getting motivated.
However, there are some things you can ask yourself when a student feels “unmotivated” or is unwilling to put forth the effort to learn that you think they are capable of. Instead of assuming “they just won’t work”, ask yourself these questions:
Question 1: Are They Engaged?
Engagement is one of the most powerful motivators when it comes to your students. Are the learning opportunities you're providing worthwhile to your students? Do they peak their interest? Are they varied enough to keep them interested?
This is probably one of the most common things I see when motivation declines in learners. Either the tasks are repetitive and monotonous (example: constant textbook work), or they are “worksheet” driven and don’t allow students to interact with the world around them....