Begin the year differently to create success for your struggling students
Tuesday, August 01, 2017
Do you recall from a recent school year how you started it with high hopes that this would be the year for learning success for certain students? If you made that happen, please congratulate yourself. If it didn't happen, you might find some helpful suggestions in this article.
First, be aware that kids with learning difficulties are not less intelligent than successful students. Most are simply less "lucky" because they have not been placed with teachers who know how to discover their preferred learning modality.
Once that is identified, teachers who decide to select or create learning experiences that have more than an even chance of helping struggling learners access and more easily understand material they need to learn may expect noticeable success.
Most students who usually struggle with typical school tasks much prefer learning the required standards in visual, tactile and/or kinesthetic ways.
They do not do well when they are expected to read large amounts of text — in books or on screens — because most of them do not enjoy reading as they find it a huge and unpleasant chore for them. They get restless and distracted when they have to sit still for long periods of time or when they discover that very little of this year's curriculum is connected to topics about which they would really enjoy learning.
Students who prefer visual t-k methods are called "global learners," because they much prefer do do their thinking "holistically," which means being guided to understand the "whole" or big picture before being expected to learn the "parts." These students could be much more successful if we taught in ways that made good sense to their brains.
By contrast, students who are usually more successful with school tasks usually experience consistent matches with the way most teachers teach. They enjoy it when teachers lecture or talk a great deal, and have no trouble with related learning tasks, which usually require logical, analytic and/or sequential thinking.
Allow me to demonstrate these beliefs in a quick manner.
Please fold your hands as you always do, and notice which thumb is on top. If I expect you to sit still while I am presenting material, you would be able to comply because you are comfortable. Although you wouldn't be able to take notes, your comfort level would still be strong.
Now please open your hands and refold them with the other thumb on top. For several minutes, your discomfort would distract you from the content and your thoughts would center on whether I know your hands are still folded, or what would happen to you if you unfolded your hands before I had given explicit permission to do so. Your ability to concentrate on the required task would be significantly diminished.
Next, please hypothesize what might happen to you as a learner if most of the tasks you were assigned made you feel uncomfortable and not smart at all.
The chart below explains which teaching choices you might make to improve the likelihood that your global learners might be more successful this year.
Finally, I strongly recommend that you watch the YouTube video below called "The Power of Yet" by Carol Dweck.
It describes a unique strategy that allows struggling learners to hang onto hope during their struggles When you combine this strategy of "not yet" with the suggestions in this article, you will greatly increase the likelihood that these students will have a much more successful school year than they have had in past years.
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- Improving engagement for students with disabilities
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