For all our talk about noncognitive skills, nobody has yet found a reliable way to teach kids to be grittier or more resilient. And it has become clear, at the same time, that the educators who are best able to engender noncognitive abilities in their students often do so without really ‘teaching’ these capacities the way one might teach math or reading – indeed, they often do so without ever saying a word about them in the classroom.”
“If you are a teacher, you may never be able to get your students to be gritty, in the sense of developing some essential character trait called grit. But you can probably make them act gritty – to behave in gritty ways in your classroom. And those behaviors will help produce the academic outcomes that you (and our students and society at large) are hoping for.”
“Decisions may be the product of culture. But culture is the product of decisions.”
So how are noncognitive skills shaped? For fortunate children, they come from a number of subtle, intricate environmental forces at home and in classrooms. Kids who grow up with calm, consistent, warm, and responsive parenting, and without significant adversity, internalize these messages: You’re safe; life is going to be fine. Let down your guard; the people around you will protect you and provide for you. Be curious about the world; it’s full of fascinating surprises. Almost all of these children will do well when they get to kindergarten.
“When parents behave harshly or unpredictably – especially at moments when their children are upset – the children are less likely over time to develop the ability to manage strong emotions and respond effectively to stressful situations,” says Tough.
“On the emotional level,” says Tough, “toxic stress can make it difficult for children to moderate their responses to disappointments and provocations. A highly sensitive stress-response system that’s constantly on the lookout for threats can produce patterns of behavior that are self-defeating in school: fighting, talking back, acting up, and more subtly, going through each day perpetually wary of connection with peers or teachers.”
Executive function is also weakened, impeding children’s ability to navigate the complexity and constant distractions of school.
In the classroom,” says Tough, “neurocognitive difficulties can quickly turn into academic difficulties. Students don’t learn to read on time, because it is harder for them to concentrate on the words on the page. They don’t learn the basics of number sense, because they are too distracted by the emotions and anxieties overloading their nervous systems. As academic material becomes more complicated, they fall further behind. The more they fall behind, the worse they feel about themselves and about school. That creates more stress, which tends to feed into behavioral problems, which leads to stigmatization and punishment in the classroom, which keeps their stress levels elevated, which makes it still harder to concentrate – and so on, throughout elementary school.”
harsh punishments are ineffective in motivating troubled youth to behave, concentrate, and succeed.
Talking back and acting up in class are, at least in part, symptoms of a child’s inability to control impulses, de-escalate confrontations, and manage anger and other strong feelings – the whole stew of self-regulation issues that can usually be traced to impaired executive-function development in early childhood.”
“The impact of financial incentives on student achievement,” says Fryer, “is statistically zero in each city.”
They believe people are driven by three basic needs – competence, autonomy, and human connection – and that intrinsic motivation is sparked when these needs are being satisfied. “The problem,” says Tough, “is that when disadvantaged children run into trouble in school, either academically or behaviorally, most schools respond by imposing more control on them, not less.
“If we want students to act in ways that will maximize their future opportunities – to persevere through challenges, to delay gratification, to control their impulses – we need to consider what might motivate them to take those difficult steps.” Deci and Ryan believe that if teachers are able to create an environment that fosters competence, autonomy, and connection, students are much more likely to feel motivated to work hard.
“Jackson’s data showed that spending a few hours each week in close proximity to a certain kind of teacher changed something about students’ behavior. And that was what mattered. Somehow these teachers were able to convey deep messages – perhaps implicitly or even subliminally – about belonging, connection, ability, and opportunity. And somehow those messages had a profound impact on students’ psychology, and thus on their behavior. The environment those teachers created in the classroom, and the messages that environment conveyed, motivated students to start making better decisions – to show up to class, to persevere longer at difficult tasks, and to deal more resiliently with the countless small-scale setbacks and frustrations that make up the typical students’ school day. And those decisions improved their lives in meaningful ways.
“There is little evidence that working directly on changing students’ grit or perseverance would be an effective lever for improving their academic performance,” the report said. “While some students are more likely to persist in tasks or exhibit self-discipline than others, all students are more likely to demonstrate perseverance if the school or classroom context helps them develop positive mindsets and effective learning strategies.”
If you are a teacher, you may never be able to get your students to be gritty, in the sense of developing some essential character trait called grit. But you can probably make them act gritty – to behave in gritty ways in your classroom. And those behaviors will help produce the academic outcomes that you (and our students and society at large) are hoping for.”
“Messages that teachers convey – large and small, explicit and implicit – affect the way students feel in the classroom, and thus they way they behave there,” says Tough. Farrington has distilled the voluminous mindset research to four key beliefs that, if students embrace them, produce academic perseverance:
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->I belong in this academic community.
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->My ability and competence grow with my effort.
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->I can succeed at this.
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->This work has value for me.
To be truly motivated, students also need to believe they are doing work that is challenging, rigorous, and meaningful.
Orwell’s concept of doublethink, the method by which a bureaucracy conceals evil not only from the public but from itself.”
“Executives are bombarded with information,” explains Useem. “To ease the cognitive load, they rely on a set of unwritten scripts imported from the organization around them. You could even define corporate culture as a collection of scripts.” These are efficient, relieving leaders of the burden of figuring out how to handle each new problem. But scripts can keep people from stepping back and analyzing what’s really going on.
One common factor in disastrous corporate decisions, says Useem, is ambitious goals set by out-of-touch leaders that collide with reality.
“We know what strain does to people,” says Useem. “Even without it, they tend to underestimate the probability of future bad events. Put them under emotional stress, some research suggests, and this tendency gets amplified. People will favor decisions that preempt short-term social discomfort even at the cost of heightened long-term risk. Faced with the immediate certainty of a boss’s wrath or the distant possibility of blow-back from a faceless agency, many will focus mostly on the former.”
“It’s becoming incredibly important to learn to decide well,” says Brooks, “to develop the techniques of self-distancing to counteract the flaws in our own mental machinery.” Some pointers:
• Assume positive intent. In a conflict, if we start with the belief that others are well-intentioned, it’s easier to absorb information from people we’d rather not listen to.
• Use the 10-10-10 rule. How will we feel about this decision 10 minutes from now, 10 months from now, and 10 years from now?
• Get out of your comfort zone. A survey of newly-married women found that 20 percent weren’t initially attracted to the men they married. “Sometimes it’s useful to make a deliberate ‘mistake,’” says Brooks, “agreeing to dinner with a guy who is not your normal type. Sometimes you don’t really know what you want and the filters you apply are hurting you.”
• Avoid narrow-framing. “Whenever you find yourself asking ‘whether or not,’ it’s best to step back and ask, ‘How can I widen my options?’” says Brooks. Rather than deciding whether or not to fire someone, ask how the person’s role could be shifted to take advantage of strengths and avoid weaknesses.
• Develop a better understanding of the anatomy of decision-making.
<!--[endif]-->Mission and vision – Long-term district aspirations;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Theory of action – Fundamental beliefs about what will lead to long-term success;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Priorities – Broad areas of focus to support the theory of action;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Measurable goals – Specific and measurable targets related to district priorities;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Initiatives – Projects related to priorities to achieve the measurable goals;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Action steps – An articulation of what steps need to occur, by when, and by whom.
Kim and Parashar conclude with ten mistakes to avoid in the strategic planning process:
• Don’t start without first gaining a clear, fact-based understanding of the district’s current strengths and challenges.
• Don’t draft a plan that skims the surface: address the root causes by asking Why five times to get at the underlying issues.
• Don’t shortchange developing a cogent theory of action. “The strongest theories of action are focused, easily understood by virtually all district stakeholders, and guide critical tasks and workflows, organizational arrangement, and culture in the district,” say the authors.
• Don’t treat every idea as a good idea; develop a list of fewer than five high-impact priorities. “Manage expectations that not all ideas may find their place in the final plan,” say Kim and Parashar.
• Don’t forget to include specific, measurable action plans. This includes the roles and responsibilities of school and central staff, key milestones, and necessary budget shifts.
• Don’t forget to include many parts of the organization, not just academics. Although student achievement is the ultimate outcome, other departments such as finance, human resources, and operations play key roles.
• Don’t just engage in open-ended discussions with stakeholders about their concerns and hopes. Elicit specific, actionable feedback on a draft of the strategic plan.
• Don’t forget to include lagging (output-oriented) as well as leading (input-oriented) metrics to track progress.
• Don’t just layer new initiatives on top of existing ones. “Seek to leverage and build upon the work being done in the district and create a coherent and aligned approach to moving the work forward,” say the authors.
• Don’t forget to establish clear implementation and monitoring processes. “Effective implementation requires detailed planning and communication, cultivation of leadership capacity, and the analytics to monitor progress,” conclude Kim and Parashar. “The implementation plan and monitoring process must also be tailored to the district’s strengths, weaknesses, and available resources.”
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
Here are some practical ideas for busy teachers who want to meet the different needs of students while managing the demands on their already busy schedules.
Differentiated instruction means nothing when every student is told to finish the same 15 problems with instructions such as, "Complete the odd-numbered problems, numbers 1 through 30." A better approach is the homework menu.
"OK, I did this 5 times. Why do I have to do it 15 times?"
These are the very students, by the way, who are going to fail a class despite having passed the final exam. They know the material but did not finish their homework assignments.
Differentiated instruction, in brief, begins with differentiated homework and assessment.
If the homework menu makes sense, then why not expand the concept to an assessment menu. One concept I've used is a menu that allows students to accumulate points in a variety of different ways.
Differentiated assessment is certainly not a mechanism for lowering expectations for students. Rather, it is a strategy to encourage every student to meet the same rigorous standards in different ways. In addition, differentiated assessment will save teachers, students, and parents from spending time on tasks that are boring, inappropriate, or excessively challenging.
Andrew Miller offers up concrete examples of how teachers can differentiate through PBL. He includes: differentiation through teams, reflection and goal setting, mini-lessons, centers and resources, voice and choice in products, differentiation through formative assessments, and balancing teamwork with individual work.
Project-based learning (PBL) naturally lends itself to differentiated instruction. By design, it is student-centered, student-driven, and gives space for teachers to meet the needs of students in a variety of ways. PBL can allow for effective differentiation in assessment as well as daily management and instruction.
1. Differentiate Through Teams
Are you differentiating for academic ability? Are you differentiating for collaboration skills? Are you differentiating for social-emotional purposes? Are you differentiating for passions?
2. Reflection and Goal Setting
Throughout the project, students should be reflecting on their work and setting goals for further learning. This is a great opportunity for them to set personalized learning goals and for you to target instruction specific to the goals they set.
3. Mini-Lessons, Centers, and Resources
Perhaps you offer mini-lessons or center work to support your students' learning, or maybe you show students a variety of resources from which to learn, including videos, games, and readings.
Not all students may need the mini-lesson, so you can offer or demand it for the students who will really benefit.
4. Voice and Choice in Products
Another essential component of PBL is student voice and choice, both in terms of what students produce and how they use their time.
"How can I allow for voice and choice here?"
5. Differentiate Through Formative Assessments
as you check for understanding along the way, you can formatively assess in different ways when appropriate.
6. Balance Teamwork and Individual Work
We want to leverage collaboration as much as content. However, there are times when individual instruction and practice may be needed. You need to differentiate the learning environment because some students learn better on their own, and others learn better in a team. In fact, we all need time to process and think alone just as much as we need time to learn from our peers. Make sure to balance both so that you are supporting a collaborative environment while allowing time to meet students on an individual basis.
It is impossible for a single teacher to provide 35 unique individual learning opportunities for every learning objective, so as a result, we do the next best thing; we clump student-learning needs into related categories and get as close as we can. If we are able to do three different categories, we feel that we are doing great -- hard, medium, and easy.
Differentiating content includes using various delivery formats such as video, readings, lectures, or audio. Content may be chunked, shared through graphic organizers, addressed through jigsaw groups, or used to provide different techniques for solving equations.
Process is how students make sense of the content. They need time to reflect and digest the learning activities before moving on to the next segment of a lesson.
Processing helps students assess what they do and don't understand. It's also a formative assessment opportunity for teachers to monitor students' progress.
For example, having one or two processing experiences for every 30 minutes of instruction alleviates feelings of content saturation.
The key to product options is having clear academic criteria that students understand. When products are cleanly aligned to learning targets, student voice and choice flourish, while ensuring that significant content is addressed.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
In 2009, TNTP reported that teacher evaluation systems didn’t accurately distinguish among teachers with varying levels of proficiency, failed to identify most of the teachers with serious performance problems, and were unhelpful in guiding professional development.
The Widget Effect study concluded that “school districts must begin to distinguish great from good, good from fair, and fair from poor.”
On average, only 2.7 percent of teachers were rated below Proficient/Exemplary on a 4- or 5-point scale.
The percent of teachers given the top rating ranged from 73 percent in Tennessee to 8 percent in Massachusetts and 3 percent in Georgia.
Many districts are drawing important distinctions between good and excellent teaching, but there is less differentiation among good, fair, and poor performance.
I argue that we need to look at ways to make the time teachers have with parents more effective and yes, more personal.
Knowing how their child is performing is part of that but gaining an understanding of the deeper reasons why a child is performing in the way they are is surely much more powerful. Ideally, in the exchange between parent and teacher there will be garnered an understanding of what is needed next and who is going to support those needs. In order to arrive at that meta-understanding inside ten minutes (!) teachers, parents and pupils need a common language, a language of meta learning.
A2003 study found that laptops make it harder for students to remember what they had just learned in lecture. A 2014 study showed that students are less likely to understand complex ideas when they are forced to take notes by computer instead of by hand. But these were all contrived situations involving immediate recall. It’s less clear how laptop use affects students over the course of a semester.
Unsurprisingly, the students who were allowed to use laptops — and 80 percent of them did — scored worse on the final exam. What’s interesting is that the smartest students seemed to be harmed the most.
Among students with high ACT scores, those in the laptop-friendly sections performed significantly worse than their counterparts in the no-technology sections.
The researchers — Susan Payne Carter, Kyle Greenberg and Michael Walker — were also surprised to find that the tablet-only sections did just as poorly as the laptop-friendly sections.
Even though students were not allowed to check email or play games on the tablets, the technology still seemed to interfere with their learning.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
It’s no wonder that when a district decides to implement PBL, teachers and site leaders often feel like they cannot possibly do One. More. Thing.
After we got them all out, I think we were all a little surprised and maybe even more overwhelmed than when we started by everything on the list. Small groups took responsibility for identifying the vision and key components for each initiative. Each list was reviewed by another group to make sure initiatives were accurately represented.
As a whole group, we identified the vision and key components of PBL to make sure there was a clear and common understanding. Then the groups went back to their posters and circled in green the places where there was alignment between PBL and each of their initiatives. There were a lot of green circles on their posters. Some of the initiatives, it was discovered, could live wholly inside PBL – meaning there was complete alignment, e.g., for content-specific work, Thinking Maps, and AVID.
Develop a calendar for professional development or staff/department meetings that keeps the connections alive by shifting the orientation of meetings to focus on student goals or outcomes. Then look at existing initiatives to figure out what’s already in place to help achieve those goals.
This blog post shares how the amount of time we give students to think and answer questions can have a great impact on the quality of response we receive. By giving students wait time and thinking time, the quantity and quality of student thinking increased by 300-700%.
As time is such a valuable resource its allocation to particular aspects of teaching and learning signifies their value. If we give time to content and memorisation of facts, we signal to our students that this is what we value. Likewise, if we remind our students that time is short and work must be completed quickly we should not be surprised when our students see tasks as work to be done rather than learning to be mastered. A more effective distribution of our time will see students being given time to think deeply and truly engage with the problems they are asked to solve.
The importance of these soft-skills including important aspects of socio-emotional learning, creativity and even critical thinking are often not given the time they deserve.
Ritchhart (2015) quotes research that reveals the power of wait time and thinking time with the quality and quantity of student thinking increasing by 300% to 700% when additional time is given to thinking within class discussion. Wait time or thinking time combined with strategies such as those from ‘Making Thinking Visible’ signify to students that what is wanted is not a speedy response but a well considered one. Wait time and thinking time according to Ritchhart combat the habit many students develop of guessing what the teacher wants as a response.
Self-determination Theory (SDT) as described by Ryan & Deci (2000) and as discussed in Daniel Pink’s (2009) work on motivation reveals three drives that help us engage and maintain enthusiasm. Autonomy or a sense of control is a part of this triad and although we may not be able to decide which tasks we complete or not we can probably determine the order they are approached. Scheduling tasks which give us a boost of energy early in the day might help us move through the challenging middle period while finishing with a task we enjoy can be a positive ending. Putting off the tasks we enjoy least, those which offer the leas rewards until the end of the day is a recipe for disaster.
The other two drives identified by SDT are purpose and mastery. These too are linked to time and shape our perception of a task as a positive or negative experience. The perceived purpose of a task, the degree to which a task is important to us, the intrinsic enjoyment that a task has play an important part in how we value the time we spend on it. If a task is closely connected to our core purposes it is likely to be valued and time spent on is hardly noticed.
Within SDT the desire to master a task is the third drive. Mastery in most instances takes time and situations which prevent us from achieving mastery can lead to negative feelings. Being realistic with our mastery goals and recognising that true mastery is only achieved after significant time may reduce feeling of anxiety when confronted by situations where mastery is the goal but success is difficult to achieve.
His time management matrix shows a correlation between a task's perceived importance and its urgency with tasks deemed important but not-urgent being the ones which allow us to produce our best work. This concept is similar to the idea of wait time or thinking time and the ideas are linked together in Ritchhart’s writing.
Collaborative planning, reflection, problem identification and solution are areas that demand our best thinking but are not always given the time they demand. What this reveals is that the problem many schools face is not one of quantity of time but rather allocation of time.
By talking about how we use time, where we need more time, how we may better distribute our use of time to signal importance and provide opportunities for students and teachers to achieve their best with the time they have we begin to move things forward. Being open to new solutions, breaking with tradition and valuing time as we value money are steps towards a better model for time management in schools, one that has benefits for all.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.
“The way we’re going to improve schools is not by supervising and evaluating individual teachers into better performance; it’s by creating a culture in which teams of teachers are helping one another get better.”
“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur… not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens – and when it happens, it lasts.”
John Wooden (Wooden and Jamison, 1997)
He lists the key factors in real PLCs (as opposed to the unfortunate “PLC lite” he sees in too many schools):
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Teacher teams organized to meet by grade level and course (for example, all the third-grade teachers, all the biology teachers);
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Absolute clarity about the nature of their work;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Supports so teachers can succeed at what they’re being asked to do;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Agreement on what exactly students are supposed to learn, and at what pace;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Techniques for assessing student learning minute by minute and day by day;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Common interim assessments crafted by the team;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Team analysis of the results and follow-up with struggling students;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Looking at the teaching practices that produced good results and emulating them;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Supporting colleagues who are less effective teaching particular skills;
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Continuously improving teaching and learning.
Teachers in these schools virtually all report the highest levels of satisfaction in their careers, the greatest self-efficacy…
If you just put teachers together in a room and tell them to collaborate, there’s no evidence that that’s going to improve student achievement at all.”
“The way we’re going to improve schools is not by supervising and evaluating individual teachers into better performance,” he says; “it’s by creating a culture in which teams of teachers are helping one another get better.”
First, teams have to be looking together at the results of well-crafted common assessments. Second, conversations must be based on evidence – for example, “If we’ve given a test and I have 40 percent of my kids unable to demonstrate proficiency on a particular skill and you had 100 percent of your kids demonstrate proficiency, and these are heterogeneously grouped classes, the evidence speaks for itself.” Finally, team leaders need to be trained in leading discussions and presenting feedback in ways that aren’t hurtful.
the best PD won’t come from off-site leadership workshops, he believes, but from doing the work in teacher teams and getting feedback.
if only about six percent of teachers aren’t meeting basic standards, what about the other 94 percent? To answer this question, we need to acknowledge three basic realities in schools:
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Teaching is complex work. “The impossibility of reaching perfection is in the very nature of creative, professional work,” she says.
<!-- [if !supportLists]-->-<!--[endif]-->Current evaluation systems are underperforming.
evaluations might be able to describe a teacher’s work, but they seldom improve it.
[I]t’s time to shift from an emphasis on high-stakes accountability for individual teachers to an emphasis on schoolwide communities of professional inquiry in which educators learn from one another.”
Create an environment that’s safe and challenging. Teachers must be able to express themselves and take risks, constantly seeking new and better approaches. Danielson suggests encouraging teacher teams to identify and share “high-quality mistakes” – approaches that didn’t work out but from which valuable lessons emerged. Principals might do the same.
Principals need to affirm the key role of learning from colleagues and model openness about their own imperfections and struggles.
Principals should encourage teachers to visit a specific number of colleagues’ classrooms, not to give feedback, but to learn. The principal might offer to cover teachers’ classes during these visits.
Common planning time for key groups, clear expectations for what teams should accomplish, and skilled facilitation can produce remarkable results,
Many colleagues are ready to take on the role of mentor, instructional coach, department chair, or team leader. It’s the principal’s job to spot talent, delegate responsibility, and provide training and support. Some key skills: active listening, summarizing a discussion, acknowledging and building on others’ ideas, problem-solving, and problem identification. Principals also need to know when outside expertise is required.
the growing racial diversity of America’s student population has far outpaced that of our teaching and administrative professionals.
In the case of NAIS schools, during the 2014 –15 school year, students of color made up 29 percent of total enrollment. Yet roughly 83 percent of instructional support and 88 percent of administrators who work in NAIS schools are white.
“There is mounting evidence that aspiring school heads who feel unprepared to talk about racial and cultural perspectives and differences have limited ability to effectively lead in diverse social contexts.”
focus on the deficiencies of students based on the meanings we attach to race gives power to harmful stereotypes, which often lead to lower teacher expectations for students of color.
correlations between race and achievement — absent an understanding of the origins of race that we’re about to discuss —can lead us to incorrect conclusions, and even assumptions, about racial differences in schools.
But the practice of awarding aid to families who need smaller grants to attend definitely slows the diversification of independent school populations socioeconomically — an important dimension of diversity.
“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success — without effort. They’re wrong,” according to Dweck’s website.
“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work — brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities,” according to Dweck’s website. (See graphic by Nigel Homes.)
The “All or None” myth teaches us that there those who are “with it” and those who are not.Under this myth, those of us who understand or experience one of the societal isms (racism, sexism, classism, ableism, ageism, heterosexism, ethnocentrism, etc.) automatically assume that we understand the issues of other isms.
This myth keeps us from asking questions when we don’t know; we spend more energy protecting our competency status rather than listening, learning, and growing.
In the growth mindset, we understand and accept that there is always room to grow.No one can fully master all aspects of cultural competency for all cultural identifiers, and mistakes are inevitable.With humble curiosity, we seek to better understand ourselves, understand others, develop cross-cultural skills, and work toward equity and inclusion.
The “Mistakes and Moral Worth” myth teaches us that those who offend or hurt must be doing so because they are bigoted and morally deficient, and good-hearted people do not speak or act in ways that marginalize.Under this myth, those of us who make an offensive comment, even if unintentional, are attacked as though we had professed to be a member of a hate group.
This myth leaves us afraid to speak our mind for fear of public shaming. It keeps us focusing on our intentions rather than on our impacts.We try to prove our moral worth by debasing others who have displayed shortcomings.
In the growth mindset, we understand that good people can make mistakes.Mistakes do not define us.
When others make mistakes, we are likely to respond with patience and desire to teach, understanding that it’s possible to dislike an action without disliking the person.
Under this myth, those of us who’ve had some training to understand another’s identity and difference assume that we have learned everything we need to be competent.
We also believe that relationships can “fix” our misconceptions about a whole group of people.
This myth leaves us slipping into complacency and clinging to a false sense of mastery, reluctant to look for authentic understanding and growth.It makes us think, “If we just find the right all-school read, the right professional development workshop, the right speaker for the MLK assembly, we can fix all the problems at the school.”
In the growth mindset, we understand that bias and prejudice, as Jay Smooth puts it, are more like plaque.There is so much misinformation in the world reinforced by history, systems, and media.If we are to keep the myths at bay, we must get into a regular practice, much like brushing and flossing every day.
An acknowledgment of the deep hurt of discrimination, racism, and injustice
Moving forward requires racial literacy, which begins when individuals share their personal stories about race. In his session, he asked us to “tell the person next to you what you heard about race in your childhood.”
A desire to draw out the unique gifts that lie within each one of us.
When it comes to retention, Jacobs and Bradley recommended that “a school prove its dedication to diversity through committees, professional development, its strategic plan, curriculum, and student groups; establish and support faculty of color groups; and support professional and personal development” for faculty of color. All their interview participants cited the importance of mentoring.
Having a diversity director in name only and a diversity committee without a clear mission or funding are examples of change that is merely symbolic, they noted.
At Marin Horizon School, critical thinking on inclusion and equity began by everyone asking investigative questions, including the following:
“What pictures are on the walls of your public spaces?”
“How do you refer to families?”
“What lesson plans do you describe or feature in open houses?”
“What holidays do you honor or ignore?”
“What do your calendar priorities speak to?”
“Who is on what committee?”
“What experiences/traditions/events cause students to be reminded that they are different?”
Unlike typical one-day workshops, immersion programs require being steeped in diversity and cultural proficiency work for a sustained period of time,
some faculty have formed a monthly book club; after reading part of a diversity book, participants come with a question and highlight something new they’ve learned. In addition, faculty can take part in summer institutes and the White Privilege Conference. They can design a freshman seminar focusing on cultural proficiency. Also, they can join the school’s cultural proficiency think tank.
Student immersion activities include holding four community-building assemblies and sharing personal stories.
A comprehensive understanding of history. We have to embrace all of history,
A design-thinking template to engage in difficult conversations about race. As discussed in one session, design thinking is outlined in four steps: explore, identify, generate, and learn. We explore by empathizing with others’ stories. Then we identify key issues and reframe with “How might we...?” Next we brainstorm answers to the question and suspend judgment. Then we learn and iterate toward improvement.
“How might schools and educators bring more voices into conversations about racism, privilege, and oppression?” Colorado Academy decided the answer was to screen the documentary “I’m Not Racist…Am I?” about how the next generation is going to confront racism. In these discussions, the group observed community norms adapted from NAIS. They include:
Be fully present.
Lean into discomfort.
Assume positive intent from all speakers.
Use the “I” perspective.
Take risks, be raggedy, make some mistakes – then let go.
As the facilitator in the documentary put it after a teenager got emotional and ran out of the room, “It’s OK to leave the room, but you must come back in.”
The teacher-student relationship has so many subtle nuances across race, gender, and class lines that opening our eyes to these nuances would make us better educators. Time and again, we see a growing number of educators willing to forgo the need to jump directly into teaching, educators who are more into getting to know the students.
A few teachers have said, "The student might not be able to read, but they can read you." That's powerful in the context of schools where teachers don't have the same cultural background as the students. When teachers have a passion for the students in front of them, and not just for the subject they're teaching, everyone wins.
many students find comfort in having someone who provides stability and structure.
To be effective in multicultural classrooms, teachers must relate teaching content to the cultural backgrounds of their students.
Engagement is the visible outcome of motivation, the natural capacity to direct energy in the pursuit of a goal. Our emotions influence our motivation. In turn, our emotions are socialized through culture—the deeply learned confluence of language, beliefs, values, and behaviors that pervades every aspect of our lives.
What may elicit that frustration, joy, or determination may differ across cultures, because cultures differ in their definitions of novelty, hazard, opportunity, and gratification, and in their definitions of appropriate responses. Thus, the response a student has to a learning activity reflects his or her culture.
motivationally effective teaching is culturally responsive teaching.
Because the importance of grades and grade point averages increases as a student advances in school, it is legitimate to question whether extrinsic motivation systems are effective for significant numbers of students across cultures. We can only conclude that, as long as the educational system continues to relate motivation to learn with external rewards and punishments, culturally different students will, in large part, be excluded from engagement and success in school.
It is part of human nature to be curious, to be active, to initiate thought and behavior, to make meaning from experience, and to be effective at what we value. These primary sources of motivation reside in all of us, across all cultures. When students can see that what they are learning makes sense and is important, their intrinsic motivation emerges.
We can begin to replace the carrot and stick metaphor with the words “understand” and “elicit”; to change the concept of motivation from reward and punishment to communication and respect. We can influence the motivation of students by coming to know their perspective, by drawing forth who they naturally and culturally are, and by seeing them as unique and active. Sharing our resources with theirs, working together, we can create greater energy for learning.
A growing number of educational models, including constructivism and multiple intelligences theory, are based on intrinsic motivation. They see student perspective as central to teaching.
Unfortunately, educators must often apply these theories within educational systems dominated by extrinsic reinforcement, where grades and class rank are emphasized. And, when extrinsic rewards continue to be the primary motivators, intrinsic motivation is dampened. Those students whose socialization accommodates the extrinsic approach surge ahead, while those students—often the culturally different—whose socialization does not, fall behind. A holistic, culturally responsive pedagogy based on intrinsic motivation is needed to correct this imbalance.
The framework names four motivational conditions that the teacher and students continuously create or enhance. They are:
Establishing inclusion—creating a learning atmosphere in which students and teachers feel respected by and connected to one another.
Developing attitude—creating a favorable disposition toward the learning experience through personal relevance and choice.
Enhancing meaning—creating challenging, thoughtful learning experiences that include student perspectives and values.
Engendering competence—creating an understanding that students are effective in learning something they value.
These conditions are essential to developing intrinsic motivation. They are sensitive to cultural differences. They work in concert as they influence students and teachers, and they happen in a moment as well as over a period of time.
Figure 1. Four Conditions Necessary for Culturally Responsive Teaching
1. Establish Inclusion
Emphasize the human purpose of what is being learned and its relationship to the students' experience.
Share the ownership of knowing with all students.
Collaborate and cooperate. The class assumes a hopeful view of people and their capacity to change.
Treat all students equitably. Invite them to point out behaviors or practices that discriminate.
Structures: Ground rules, learning communities; and cooperative base groups.
2. Develop Positive Attitude
Relate teaching and learning activities to students' experience or previous knowledge.
Encourage students to make choices in content and assessment methods based on their experiences, values, needs, and strengths.
Procedures: Clear learning goals; problem solving goals; fair and clear criteria of evaluation; relevant learning models; learning contracts; approaches based on multiple intelligences theory, pedagogical flexibility based on style, and experiential learning.