Teaching Kids to Act Like Adults
At a time when so many schools are looking to set records for discipline, intervention, and performance, many instructors can’t help but find it difficult to keep students in the “box” of learning.
A teacher in Wilton Manors, Fla., ended up taking a novel approach: assigning a few students to walk out of class each day after failing to meet standards or academic failure. After just a few days, only a quarter of the students were still present, according to a recent article by Nationally Recognized Family Educators, a nonprofit that provides a high level of expertise to help educators successfully increase student achievement and retention rates through quality family support.
Under this approach, parents were not involved at all. We believe that teachers of all ages should take a similar approach, giving students responsibility for themselves and their learning, and keeping them out of the classroom as much as possible.
As far as the substance of these kinds of interventions, here are six things teachers can do right away to help students of all ages to work more productively, effectively, and independently:
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1. Make a commitment to taking regular feedback.
Students need constant feedback to boost performance and foster learning. To do this, teachers should commit to regularly capturing and writing down what they notice about the classroom experience. Ultimately, teachers need to think about how they can identify strengths and weaknesses in their students. Writing about those observations helps make a connection between the observations and improvement action plans, and raises motivation levels for students to take ownership of their learning.
2. Set up time during each day to discuss specific learning goals.
Teachers need to be intentional in setting aside time to address teaching practices that can help students achieve learning goals. This isn’t just about how to teach a subject: It’s also about creating an environment that’s socially comfortable and supportive for all students.
3. Don’t place unnecessary expectations on students.
Students who are unsure about what to expect from themselves or their teachers are more likely to be disengaged and to avoid the classroom altogether. Avoid too much pressure and overselling that will leave students feeling sad, jealous, or powerless. An overemphasis on grades and tests may result in students who feel like failures and aren’t even capable of achieving good grades. Avoid having to remove students from a class or an activity if they consistently fail to meet academic standards.
4. Make sure students know they are valued.
As a teacher, it’s important to get to know your students and establish a sense of care for them. They need to know that the only thing you’re worried about is helping them to succeed. Promote this by asking students what they like about their class and day. Only then can you know what information to include and what questions to ask in classroom activities. Also, the more you know about your students, the more you can help them set and achieve goals for themselves. If your students don’t have friends who are helping them and keeping them inspired about school, your students will likely do poorly.
5. Challenge students as well as challenge teachers.
Try to be an “enabler” for your students: As students grow, it’s important for them to have the best chance of success in school, thus growing with their own character. By asking students questions such as “what kind of notes do you have on your report?” or “what is your favorite book you’ve read in a long time?” or “What word or activity will you write on that notebook paper?” it helps them determine how to move forward. Also, try to challenge your own knowledge: Ask questions on quizzes or tests when you don’t know something. Doing this in addition to providing supplemental information is also helpful for students who are new to a class or subject.
6. Be purposeful in your lesson content.
Teachers should be intentional about their lesson content. What does “science” mean to you? What are your top priorities? How do you want to raise students’ opinions about what science does and doesn’t cover? These are essential questions, and help to define the theme of a lesson. Making sure that the lessons they use revolve around these ideas is important for teachers to keep a clear idea of how their kids should learn — and how much they should learn.
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As educators, we have the opportunity to shape the future of our students. It is our responsibility to ensure that they succeed and reach their highest potential. At a time when so many schools are looking to set records for discipline, intervention, and performance, many instructors can’t help but