Making Failure Harder Work Than Passing Chemistry seems to inspire a "D" mentality. A significant number of students just want to pass the class, meet their graduation requirement, and do it with as little effort as possible. Take Evelyn, for example, a junior in my chemistry class last term. Evelyn is a bright young lady, but she didn't see chemistry as relevant to her present or future, so she kept her head low, didn't engage in the material, missed about 20 percent of the class, and seemed to target a grade of 60 percent. That was at the beginning of the class. By the end of the term, Evelyn was sitting in the front row, volunteering to demonstrate how to solve problems, and getting frustrated with herself when her final grade in the class was a "B." Evelyn's grade had gone from a 60 percent to an 85 percent, but the real changes that I saw in her were much more rewarding than an improved grade point average. Many students will avoid working hard in a class that they see as challenging because of the risk involved.
Failure Is Essential to Learning One of my favorite things to say when doing strategic planning with teachers is that the plan has a 50 percent chance of success and a 100 percent chance of teaching us how to get "smarter" about delivering on our mission. I love saying this because it conveys an essential truth: Failure is not a bad thing. It is a guaranteed and inevitable part of learning. In any and all endeavors, and especially as a learning organization, we will experience failure, as surely as a toddler will fall while learning to walk. Unfortunately, in education, particularly in this high-stakes accountability era, failure has become the term attached to our persistent challenges. Why Failure Is Important Early educational reformer John Dewey said it best: "Failure is instructive. Instead, we see failure as an opportunity for students to receive feedback on their strengths as well as their areas of improvement -- all for the purpose of getting better. How do you make failure students' friend? One Student's Story
Focus on the Process and Results Will Follow As I explored the correlation between great coaching and great teaching while interviewing highly successful sports coaches for a book about what teachers can learn from them, a common theme surfaced repeatedly. Several coaches stressed the importance of emphasizing the process rather than the results. This approach may seem counterintuitive, especially given the unprecedented emphasis on testing and performance in education today. However, the process-oriented approach to teaching and learning falls in line nicely with classroom instructional goals such as growth mindset and mastery. Because teachers are generally compliant, they will work diligently to produce the scores and performance that states, districts, and school leadership demand. The Problem Athletes at all levels face greater pressure today than ever before to be competitive, to score, to rack up statistics, and to produce wins. A Potential Solution Benefits of Emphasizing the Process
The Making of an Expert Thirty years ago, two Hungarian educators, László and Klara Polgár, decided to challenge the popular assumption that women don’t succeed in areas requiring spatial thinking, such as chess. They wanted to make a point about the power of education. The Polgárs homeschooled their three daughters, and as part of their education the girls started playing chess with their parents at a very young age. It’s not only assumptions about gender differences in expertise that have started to crumble. So what does correlate with success? Consistently and overwhelmingly, the evidence showed that experts are always made, not born. The journey to truly superior performance is neither for the faint of heart nor for the impatient. Let’s begin our story with a little wine. What Is an Expert? In 1976, a fascinating event referred to as the “Judgment of Paris” took place. Two assumptions were challenged that day. How, then, can you tell when you’re dealing with a genuine expert? Practice Deliberately
WOOP to and through college Wish What is your most important academic Wish or concern? Pick a Wish that is challenging for you but that you can fulfill. Note your Wish in 3-6 words! Outcome What would be the best thing, the best Outcome about fulfilling your Wish? Note your best Outcome in 3-6 words! Now take a moment and imagine this best Outcome. Obstacle Sometimes things don‘t work out as we would like. Note your main Obstacle in 3-6 words! Now take a moment and imagine your main Obstacle. Plan What can you do to overcome your Obstacle? Think about it: When and where will the obstacle occur the next time? Make the following Plan: If… (Obstacle), Then I will …(action) If... Then... Copyright © 2014 Gabriele Oettingen.
Wire Side Chats: How Can Teachers Develop Students' Motivation -- and Success? What can teachers do to help develop students who will face challenges rather than be overwhelmed by them? Why is it that many students seem to fall apart when they get to junior high or middle school? Can the "gifted" label do more harm than good? Do early lessons set girls up for failure? Is self-esteem something that teachers can or should "give" to students? Those are some of the questions Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Columbia University, answers for Education World. Carol S. Dweck shares with Education World readers some of her thoughts about the role of motivation in learning. Education World: Some students are mastery-oriented; they readily seek challenges and pour effort into them. Carol Dweck: This is a really interesting question, and the answer is surprising. This is something that really intrigued me from the beginning. EW: What can teachers do to help develop mastery-oriented students -- students who will face a challenge rather than be overwhelmed by it?
Grading for Mastery and Redesigning My Gradebook For the last two years, I’ve been increasingly frustrated with the traditional approach to assessing students and reporting grades. I want my students to value learning, not the accumulation of points. Unfortunately, I feel like school is akin to a Pacman game where students are myopically focused on gobbling up points and, as a result, miss the point of learning entirely. Redesigning My Gradebook This year I decided to overhaul my gradebook and assess students based on their mastery of particular skills, also referred to as standards-based grading. Last Year This Year Because my students create everything from digital stories to digital portfolios to RSA animation, I also included “Creative Design” and “Academic Engagement” categories to cover additional skills that are crucial to their success. Don’t Grade Everything In the past, students received points for almost every activity they completed in class. Entering Grades in Relation to Specific Skills
Why You Shouldn't Do Your Child's Homework A recent report by the NSW Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards has suggested that parents are helping children cheat by completing their school homework, and has called for this issue to be addressed. But does helping your child with homework hinder their progress? The answer to this question is not simple. So far, research on the subject has been mixed, finding that different types of parental involvement in homework have different relationships to achievement. For example, are you motivated to help your child because you are worried they will fail, or how their performance might reflect upon you? Are you concerned they may miss out on longer-term goals (like university entry) unless you take over some tasks for them? If you answered yes to any of the above, I’m afraid you are not helping, you are hindering their progress. What type of person are you? Psychologists break down goals into two very broad categories: performance motivated versus mastery motivated.
Letter Grades Deserve an 'F' Letter grades are a tradition in our educational system, and we accept them as fair and objective measures of academic success. However, if the purpose of academic grading is to communicate accurate and specific information about learning, letter, or points-based grades, are a woefully blunt and inadequate instrument. Worse, points-based grading undermines learning and creativity, rewards cheating, damages students' peer relationships and trust in their teachers, encourages students to avoid challenging work, and teaches students to value grades over knowledge. Letter grades communicate precious little about the process of learning a given subject. When a child earns a ‘B’ in Algebra I, what does that ‘B’ represent? That ‘B’ may represent hundreds of points-based assignments, arranged and calculated in categories of varying weights and relative significance depending on the a teacher’s training or habit. As a teacher, I struggled with the fuzzy logic of grading every term.
Throwing away grades could lead to new education system | The Tower Pulse By Chase Clark ’18│Staff Writer It’s a second hour English class and essays are being passed back to students. Rather than having a red letter grade circled on the top, there is a short paragraph written by the teacher saying what was done well by the student and what needs improvement. “Throwing away” grades is a newer concept with teachers around the country that aims to give students written evaluations with feedback on what they did right or wrong, instead of a letter grade. These teachers believe the traditional grading system is all about students doing everything they can to get the A, even going as far as cheating on tests and homework, and not doing everything they can to actually learn the material being given to them. High school English and journalism teacher Starr Sackstein is one supporter of this movement, and believes that the traditional grading system is based on their ability to comply.