Sunday, August 28, 2016

As we enter into our final week before the Labor Day holiday, I feel inclined to tell you about.... my pants. Yep. My white pants. I'm not gonna lie... I've never been more thankful to have a nationally accepted fashion guideline as "don't wear white pants after Labor Day."

After I got back into my pre-pregnancy size clothes earlier this Spring, I felt like I should treat myself with a small shopping trip. My twin sister had been raving about a pair of yellow pants she purchased and I thought, "umm...HECK NO! Not for this girl! My wardrobe consists of black, gray, and khaki, so bold colors are definitely out." Then I found myself in TJ Maxx staring at a pair of white pants. OKAY! I'LL TRY THEM ON!! (This was the first step of my growth mindset kicking in, for the record.) I tried them, I liked them, I bought them, then attempted to wear them. I have NEVER experienced as much anxiety in my life as that day in May when I wore my white pants for the first time. Every single marker, condiment bottle, cap-less pen, person eating lunch might as well have been aiming a can of spray paint at me that day!!!! Why do people DO this to themselves!? I couldn't handle it. I swore these things were going to Goodwill the minute they came out of the dryer! But I kind of liked the way they looked. And I did get a few compliments on them. I had to figure out a way to make these things work... yes, fully enact my growth mindset and take ownership for learning how to wear these things without anxiety creeping in.

While awkward, yes, this day of living in fear reminded me a lot of how your students might feel in your classes. Anxious of how others might view their learning abilities. Nervous that any new piece of information coming their way will just show up as a big "stain on their pants" that they don't know what to do with or how to make it blend in to the rest of what they know or are trying to learn. And your students don't HAVE a labor day rule to look forward to as a mental break in whatever might be causing them anxiety. WE HAVE TO HELP THEM! We have to make the markers, condiment bottles, cap-less pens, etc. look like stain removing pens, not spray paint!!! While you develop your own means for helping students establish a growth mindset and take ownership over their learning, let me get you started with a few things:

  • Here's a really great activity for confronting and teaching students how to struggle.
  • Engage students with written reflections, self-assessments, discussions or individual conferences regarding how they build confidence or find personal relevance in their tasks.
  • Allow them to experience a safe dose of failure and debrief how they overcame the struggle.
  • Spend time developing reflective learners in your classroom with some of these tips (for more traditional assessment items).

If we want students to become agents for their own learning (grow from setbacks, build confidence, seek feedback, actively participate, etc...) we have become proactive instead of reactive for those learning moments which may cause them anxiety and in turn, cause them to shut down from gaining new knowledge and skills. If we expect students to know how to take ownership over their own learning and maintain a growth mindset, we have already failed them. You would never assess a student on their ability to solve a single-variable equation without first teaching/supporting them in learning this new skill, so why do we assess them for knowing how to own their own learning if we aren't teaching it first?!

Yes, I did wear those white pants again...four times to be exact. I had to become proactive (packing a stain remover pen and an extra pair of pants each time I wore them) instead of cautiously awaiting to react. I have one more week to wear my "growth mindset pants" before the fashion police start to come after me, so I will consider this week my week of summative assessment!

Peace, love, and #thestruggleisreal ,
Sarah


As we enter into our final week before the Labor Day holiday, I feel inclined to tell you about.... my pants. Yep. My white pants. I'm not gonna lie... I've never been more thankful to have a nationally accepted fashion guideline as "don't wear white pants after Labor Day."

After I got back into my pre-pregnancy size clothes earlier this Spring, I felt like I should treat myself with a small shopping trip. My twin sister had been raving about a pair of yellow pants she purchased and I thought, "umm...HECK NO! Not for this girl! My wardrobe consists of black, gray, and khaki, so bold colors are definitely out." Then I found myself in TJ Maxx staring at a pair of white pants. OKAY! I'LL TRY THEM ON!! (This was the first step of my growth mindset kicking in, for the record.) I tried them, I liked them, I bought them, then attempted to wear them. I have NEVER experienced as much anxiety in my life as that day in May when I wore my white pants for the first time. Every single marker, condiment bottle, cap-less pen, person eating lunch might as well have been aiming a can of spray paint at me that day!!!! Why do people DO this to themselves!? I couldn't handle it. I swore these things were going to Goodwill the minute they came out of the dryer! But I kind of liked the way they looked. And I did get a few compliments on them. I had to figure out a way to make these things work... yes, fully enact my growth mindset and take ownership for learning how to wear these things without anxiety creeping in.

While awkward, yes, this day of living in fear reminded me a lot of how your students might feel in your classes. Anxious of how others might view their learning abilities. Nervous that any new piece of information coming their way will just show up as a big "stain on their pants" that they don't know what to do with or how to make it blend in to the rest of what they know or are trying to learn. And your students don't HAVE a labor day rule to look forward to as a mental break in whatever might be causing them anxiety. WE HAVE TO HELP THEM! We have to make the markers, condiment bottles, cap-less pens, etc. look like stain removing pens, not spray paint!!! While you develop your own means for helping students establish a growth mindset and take ownership over their learning, let me get you started with a few things:

  • Here's a really great activity for confronting and teaching students how to struggle.
  • Engage students with written reflections, self-assessments, discussions or individual conferences regarding how they build confidence or find personal relevance in their tasks.
  • Allow them to experience a safe dose of failure and debrief how they overcame the struggle.
  • Spend time developing reflective learners in your classroom with some of these tips (for more traditional assessment items).

If we want students to become agents for their own learning (grow from setbacks, build confidence, seek feedback, actively participate, etc...) we have become proactive instead of reactive for those learning moments which may cause them anxiety and in turn, cause them to shut down from gaining new knowledge and skills. If we expect students to know how to take ownership over their own learning and maintain a growth mindset, we have already failed them. You would never assess a student on their ability to solve a single-variable equation without first teaching/supporting them in learning this new skill, so why do we assess them for knowing how to own their own learning if we aren't teaching it first?!

Yes, I did wear those white pants again...four times to be exact. I had to become proactive (packing a stain remover pen and an extra pair of pants each time I wore them) instead of cautiously awaiting to react. I have one more week to wear my "growth mindset pants" before the fashion police start to come after me, so I will consider this week my week of summative assessment!

Peace, love, and #thestruggleisreal ,
Sarah


As we enter into our final week before the Labor Day holiday, I feel inclined to tell you about.... my pants. Yep. My white pants. I'm not gonna lie... I've never been more thankful to have a nationally accepted fashion guideline as "don't wear white pants after Labor Day."

After I got back into my pre-pregnancy size clothes earlier this Spring, I felt like I should treat myself with a small shopping trip. My twin sister had been raving about a pair of yellow pants she purchased and I thought, "umm...HECK NO! Not for this girl! My wardrobe consists of black, gray, and khaki, so bold colors are definitely out." Then I found myself in TJ Maxx staring at a pair of white pants. OKAY! I'LL TRY THEM ON!! (This was the first step of my growth mindset kicking in, for the record.) I tried them, I liked them, I bought them, then attempted to wear them. I have NEVER experienced as much anxiety in my life as that day in May when I wore my white pants for the first time. Every single marker, condiment bottle, cap-less pen, person eating lunch might as well have been aiming a can of spray paint at me that day!!!! Why do people DO this to themselves!? I couldn't handle it. I swore these things were going to Goodwill the minute they came out of the dryer! But I kind of liked the way they looked. And I did get a few compliments on them. I had to figure out a way to make these things work... yes, fully enact my growth mindset and take ownership for learning how to wear these things without anxiety creeping in.

While awkward, yes, this day of living in fear reminded me a lot of how your students might feel in your classes. Anxious of how others might view their learning abilities. Nervous that any new piece of information coming their way will just show up as a big "stain on their pants" that they don't know what to do with or how to make it blend in to the rest of what they know or are trying to learn. And your students don't HAVE a labor day rule to look forward to as a mental break in whatever might be causing them anxiety. WE HAVE TO HELP THEM! We have to make the markers, condiment bottles, cap-less pens, etc. look like stain removing pens, not spray paint!!! While you develop your own means for helping students establish a growth mindset and take ownership over their learning, let me get you started with a few things:

  • Here's a really great activity for confronting and teaching students how to struggle.
  • Engage students with written reflections, self-assessments, discussions or individual conferences regarding how they build confidence or find personal relevance in their tasks.
  • Allow them to experience a safe dose of failure and debrief how they overcame the struggle.
  • Spend time developing reflective learners in your classroom with some of these tips (for more traditional assessment items).

If we want students to become agents for their own learning (grow from setbacks, build confidence, seek feedback, actively participate, etc...) we have become proactive instead of reactive for those learning moments which may cause them anxiety and in turn, cause them to shut down from gaining new knowledge and skills. If we expect students to know how to take ownership over their own learning and maintain a growth mindset, we have already failed them. You would never assess a student on their ability to solve a single-variable equation without first teaching/supporting them in learning this new skill, so why do we assess them for knowing how to own their own learning if we aren't teaching it first?!

Yes, I did wear those white pants again...four times to be exact. I had to become proactive (packing a stain remover pen and an extra pair of pants each time I wore them) instead of cautiously awaiting to react. I have one more week to wear my "growth mindset pants" before the fashion police start to come after me, so I will consider this week my week of summative assessment!

Peace, love, and #thestruggleisreal ,
Sarah


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Just Keep Swimming....

When talking about "Scaffolding" with educators, I used to reference a quick example of "It's like teaching a kid to swim. We often don't just throw them in the pool and expect success. We first give them arm floaties and wrap an inflatable duckie around their waist while walking them around a pool. Eventually the duckie comes off, later the arm floats, and finally, after the child shows signs of success... we let go. We support/scaffold the experience for them until they no longer need each of those scaffolds."

After 9 sessions of swim lessons this summer for my 8 month old, Owen, I now realize how bland that example of scaffolding was. While it demonstrates the point that supports are needed for short periods of time until other skills are developed, it does not demonstrate the complexity in design of the scaffolding. Owen's swim instructor had a few goals (i.e. standards) for her work this summer, one of which was:
  • Find the wall while moving unassisted through water. 
  • Understand the sensation of floating in water without support.
Wouldn't you know it... not a single floatie was placed on that kid's body either!!! Instead, she prioritized which skills were necessary to accomplish this goal early on in the summer, which would follow the early goals, and what could/should come last. She operated with performance benchmarks in mind for each of these phases too:
  • Benchmark 1 (early phase): Owen will reach for the wall while I move him through the water and grab it solidly with both hands.
  • Benchmark 2 (middle phase): Owen will catch his breath and keep his mouth closed when water is poured on his head.
  • Benchmark 3 (late phase): As I move Owen underwater towards the wall, he will emerge from the water reaching for the wall with both hands.
  • Final Product: Owen will find the wall while moving unassisted underwater.
Then, she narrowed down this standard to the targeted skills he would need to learn to accomplish each of those performance benchmarks (such as understanding patterns such as 1 - 2 - 3 meant something was about to happen, finding comfort in only water surrounding his body, etc.) With those specific skills identified, she then identified the activities she would use to teach him those skills, pre-thought out potential barriers that would keep him from progressing and had alternative methods ready in the case she would need them to support his learning. Obviously then, there was feedback for reflection and refinement at every phase of learning. It was UNIVERSAL DESIGN FOR LEARNING (UDL) at it's finest!

I will never again conduct a training session on "educational scaffolding"with the bland example of floatation. INSTEAD, I want educators thinking about these same elements which allow for guidance of necessary standards and skills while still remaining flexible to support students at every level of learning:

EARLY PHASE
  
                                                                MIDDLE PHASE

LATE PHASE


How will you make learning accessible to YOUR students?! What performance benchmarks will be established to ensure they are on their way to accomplishing the end goal? What barriers could be keeping students from learning the targeted skills and how will you be prepared to overcome them!? 

With the appropriate plan in place, my little guy learned to find safety on his own in a matter of nine, 30min. swim lessons. I hope you find the time to plan and commit to helping your students find "safety" too.

video


Peace, love, and Michael Phelps wanna-be's
Sarah