Success in the Classroom Archives - A Blog for Principals and Teachers - School Matters | A Blog for Principals and Teachers – School Matters

 
 

Success in the Classroom

 
 
Student Success: Dedicated To the Kid in the Back of the Classroom

Student Success: Dedicated To the Kid in the Back of the Classroom

I scanned the article with only passing interest until I saw his name1. It was one of those ‘home town boy makes good’ features about a California native son, who had fashioned a brilliant business plan to save an area hospital and whose beneficence had significantly impacted his entire community. When I saw the name Sam Davis attached to this wealthy benefactor, I almost fainted.

 
Predicting Success

Predicting Success

Many have wondered if teaching is best described as a science or an art. As is almost always the case is such debates, both are rather accurate.

In some ways, teaching is most certainly a science. Specific methodologies can be employed which will result in reproducible outcomes. Such methodologies can even be tailored and modified to optimize success in distinct disciplines. We can clearly define learning goals and set testable standards for achievement.

And yet, teaching is also part art. We all know that great teachers are born, not made. While we can evaluate certain characteristics that will contribute to teacher success, the essence of what makes them great remains elusive.

So how can we predict whether or not a teacher will succeed?

 
Seeing is Believing

Seeing is Believing

Earlier this month the National Research Council released a study, Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century. The paper poses a new definition for deeper learning, “The process through which a person becomes capable of taking what was learned in one situation and applying it to new situations – in other words, learning for ‘transfer.’”

 
The Best Building I Can Be

The Best Building I Can Be

The classrooms are empty and the hallways are quiet; finally, a time to think. When educators think, they think of achievement. They look back at the past school year, enjoy the successes and analyze the failures. They all want to achieve more.

Without a doubt opportunities for enhanced achievement can be found in every facet of our educational programs. We can upgrade curriculum, provide teacher enrichment, expand support staff and even offer free coffee in the morning. However, we might also want to take another look at those hallways and classrooms.

 
Teaching To the End

Teaching To the End

Which is your most difficult month? When asked, teachers will usually choose between September and June.
Some find that the transition from summer to school that takes place in September is the most challenging. They point to the fact that students have come off a long break, with little or no organized (or sometimes even unorganized) learning having taken place for more than ten weeks. Requiring students to settle down into a regiment of classes, tests and homework, after the summer hiatus is no small feat.

 
Care Why or Why Care?

Care Why or Why Care?

After my last post, discussing the critical importance of the ‘why’ question, I received the following feedback:

The need is to CARE why… so many students do not care about knowledge; they care about “fun” and socialization. They have no idea that their time at school is to provide them with information that will shape their future. 40% drop out before completing secondary school… almost 1/2 of the nation is not prepared to lead the nation into the 22nd Century.

The point is well taken. How can we talk about teaching students to critically process information when we struggle to get them to care about the information in the first place?

The point is well taken. How can we talk about teaching students to critically process information when we struggle to get them to care about the information in the first place?

 
Chasing Excellence and Catching Greatness Along The Way

Chasing Excellence and Catching Greatness Along The Way

What is the secret to the great teacher? What is it that defines the master educator? Mastery of the subject being taught is essential, as is a passion for the subject as well as for transferring knowledge or skill to students. Additionally, one would require some training or natural talent in order to employ the most effective methodologies available. Mastery, passion, training and talent; impressive, but something is missing.

 
Why do I have to know this stuff?

Why do I have to know this stuff?

We have previously argued that educators must play the role of both facilitating the learning process and filtering the acquired knowledge so that students not only learn but also know what they must remember. The expiration date of unfiltered knowledge will be determined by the date of the final test. The point made was that if students are asked to remember almost everything they learn, (an impossible task) they will respond by forgetting almost everything they learn. Clearly communicating to students which knowledge is of enduring value is the key to solving the ‘why our students know so little’ syndrome.

 
Why do our children learn so much and yet know so little? – Part One

Why do our children learn so much and yet know so little? – Part One

Renowned humorist Dave Barry reflects on his college experience and writes:

College is basically a bunch of rooms where you sit for roughly two thousand hours and try to memorize things… Basically, you learn two kinds of things in college:

Things you will need to know in later life (two hours). These include how to make collect telephone calls and get beer and crepe-paper stains out of your pajamas.

Things you will not need to know in later life (1,998 hours). These are the things you learn in classes whose names end in -ology, – - -osophy, -istry, -ics, and so on. The idea is, you memorize these things, then write them down in little exam books, then forget them…

After you’ve been in college for a year or so, you’re supposed to choose a major, which is the subject you intend to memorize and forget the most things about.

While Barry may be somewhat diminishing the value of a college education, he has hit upon an important issue that effects schooling at almost every level. Put simply we may ask: Why do our children learn so much and yet know so little?

 
The Myth of Failure

The Myth of Failure

Failure motivates. Well, to be more accurate, fear of failure motivates. We live in a society in which the Lombardi motto ‘winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing’ drives athletes towards excellence and has been often quoted, and subsequently adopted, in the business world as well. Coming in second is now viewed, in the words of comic Jerry Seinfeld, as being ‘the first loser’, making the thought of failure to win a distasteful, if not outright scary, prospect.