- Teachers are out for the Summer. Here are the Top Streaming Shows and Movies to Watch - May 28, 2023
- Middle School Summer Reading List - May 28, 2023
- Eleventh-Grade Summer Reading List for Students - May 27, 2023
- Recommended Chapter Books for 3rd Grade Summer Reading List - May 26, 2023
- Tenth Grade Summer Reading List: Embracing Diversity & Unlocking Imagination - May 26, 2023
- Ninth Grade Summer Reading List: Embracing Diversity & Unlocking Imagination - May 25, 2023
- Tea, Bannock & Poetry – A Teacher’s Tale - May 11, 2023
- Teacher Appreciation Deals-2023 - May 8, 2023
- Cultural Exchange Teachers in the United States: Supporting The Need for Effective Mentorship Programs - May 5, 2023
- Why Teaching Students to Say “Sorry” Is Not Enough - May 4, 2023
The new year has begun, and we find ourselves gearing up for the second stretch of the school year. Many make resolutions, and educators often think about how to better tackle issues that have emerged since the start of school. January tends to be when teachers look to reel in their students and re-establish the classroom environment, such as fine-tuning our expectations and procedures, tackling classroom management concerns, or trying a different approach to instruction. We tend to do this when we get back from break or at the end of the month when the marking period or semester ends because it signals a fresh start either with the grade book or, for some, with an entirely new group of students.Instructional Roadblocks? Shifts in Point-of-View Can Help Reveal Viable Solutions Click To Tweet
So how should we do this, especially when educators are stumbling, barely making headway because they can't see through their COVID smeared lenses? If we take a moment to remove our glasses and clean away the mask-induced fog that's blurring our vision, the answer is clear- we need to go back to the basics. We are making assumptions about our students and their abilities without recognizing they have lost basic skills they have had in the past.
Let's look at this closer, so you can better see what I'm saying. Are you frustrated because your students are disorganized, lack accountability, don't follow directions, can't work in groups, cheat, fail, etc.? Ask yourself this - have you explained, modeled, and reinforced ways to tackle these issues? Before you answer with a quick "yes," I want you to consider if you have truly explained, modeled, and reinforced? The reality is that most of us have not because the things we thought were basic common sense are not so simple anymore, and because of this, we need to rewind and reteach practically everything. Ok, I just heard you laugh out loud, and I know I offered a solution that at first glance appears to add more work without enough hours in the day. I acknowledge your sentiment, but that doesn't erase the reality of this predicament. If we want to make it through the rest of the year without blindly grasping for straws, we're going to have to look at our concerns from another perspective.
Take a moment and identify the biggest, most aggravating issue you are facing in your classroom and readjust your lens to view it differently because, many times, what we perceive isn't necessarily what others see or understand. This became quite apparent a few years ago when I was talking to my, at the time, 7th-grade son about the model he was making for a science project. I said, "You want to make sure you cover the entire circumference before trying to adhere to the polygons." In genuine, dismissive teenage disdain, he replied, "I don't understand the words coming out of your mouth." I looked at him blankly because I wasn't speaking Mandarin, and I thought I was describing a simple concept. Yet, I paused to rethink my statement, word for word, to "hear" it from his point of view. I then thought to replace a few words with more simple synonyms, and I said the new version aloud to him. Without missing a beat, he replied, "Why didn't you say that the first time? Obviously, I'm going to paint the whole thing before gluing on the foam triangles. Duh."
Most of our students won't be as candid as my son. To truly understand why they are not doing or understanding x,y,z, it's paramount to solicit anonymous feedback. Students tend to be more candid when they don't reveal who they are. Now, this is easier said than done. You're going to have to put on a thick layer of skin and set aside your ego to prepare for the inevitable- negative, possibly insulting exaggerated responses. If your students don't appear mature enough to give objective feedback, you may need to incorporate a mini-lesson to teach them how to do it. Using a relatable topic, display and discuss sample feedback responses that are formative and helpful and unconstructive and inappropriate. Using guided prompts or sentence stems to engage students in dialogue will help them identify examples and non-examples. Showing students what not to do helps them better understand what they are being asked to do. Then before reading the feedback, remind yourself that you are trying to get to the root of the matter, so instead, flip the script. Eliminate your point-of-view and emotions and see things through the lens of your students, their point-of-view, as I did when I was trying to explain the need to paint before gluing with my son. While reviewing the answers, look for commonalities. Take stock in repeated thoughts and focus less on hurtful statements or ones that triggered an angry, defensive response. And remember this- no one wants to fail. It's uncomfortable when we struggle and can't grasp a concept. If someone says they are invested in fixing a problem, most responses will include helpful details to shed light on the situation.
Now it's time to use this feedback and create instruction following the EMR strategy (Explain, Model, Reinforce):
Explain: How will you verbally and visually explain the content/task/directions etc.?
Model: How will you verbally and visually model this information?
Reinforce: When will you repeat what you explained and modeled? Will it happen at the beginning, middle, or end of class? Will you do it every day? Monday, Wednesday, Friday? Tuesday and Thursday?
The circular arrows in the EMR diagram illustrate how reinforcement will occur when repeating explanations and modeling again, again, and again.
Follow the steps below to implement this strategy effectively:
- Identify the problem/issue
- Compile a summary of student feedback
- Determine how you are going to verbally and visually explain a solution to the problem/issue
- Plan how you intend to model the solution for the students to observe.
- Schedule when you will reinforce with repeated explanations and modeling.
Make sure you can justify every decision you make in the plan to yield the most successful results.
Here is an example that applies each step of the EMR approach:
- Identify the problem/issue: Mr. Parr's students continue to plagiarize even though he has repeatedly told them that plagiarism is a form of cheating. Next week, they will be writing an argumentative essay that requires sources to substantiate their position on the issue. No matter how often Mr. Parr reminds his students, they keep doing it. He's concerned they will all get a zero.
- Compile a summary of student feedback: Mr. Parr creates a Google Form with questions asking students to anonymously explain what they think plagiarism is and how they can avoid it. They write the definition Mr. Parr has repeated endlessly, but he discovers they don't know how not to plagiarize. Mr. Parr realizes the unclear parameters of remote instruction have, unfortunately, made it unofficially acceptable for students to copy and paste almost anything. He sees his students are copying and pasting because they haven't been taught how to use a source correctly by summarizing or paraphrasing what the author says. Before COVID, when Mr. Parr's students arrived in his class, they had already learned how not to plagiarize in previous grades. He assumed this was still the case, but after cleaning the lenses of his glasses, he realized that skills acquired in earlier grades no longer existed because the pandemic derailed traditional instruction. Mr. Parr must go back to the basics before proceeding with the concepts in his course.
- Determine how you will verbally and visually explain a solution to the problem/issue: Mr. Parr decides he will visually project the words paraphrase and summarize with their definitions while verbally emphasizing "phrase" and "sum" to explain better what the words mean.
- Plan how you intend to model the solution for the students to observe: Mr. Parr displays a short paragraph and asks the students to follow along as he reads it allowed. He removes the excerpt and demonstrates how to paraphrase a quote and summarize the entire passage. He does this as a think-aloud where he says his thoughts and then writes them on the board as a paraphrase and summary. The essential component to this demonstration is that Mr. Parr removed the source and relied on his memory to put the content in his own words. Getting students in the habit of taking away the source eliminates the unconscious temptation to copy information word for word.
- Schedule when you will reinforce with repeated explanations and modeling: Since students will be submitting a writing assignment next week and Mr. Parr has a serious concern about plagiarizing, he decides his students will read short passages and practice paraphrasing and summarizing the content during the next nine warm-ups. He hopes this daily reinforcement with repeated explanations and modeling will give students enough opportunities to make the process a habit.
Implementing this strategy with deliberate and consistent repetition changes the problem from one riddled with roadblocks to a conditioned habit that occurs without students realizing it, like when you suddenly remember all the words to a song on the radio that you haven't heard since you were in elementary school. To put it simply (as Will Durant did for the sentiments of Aristotle), "We are what we repeatedly do." Although you may feel like a broken record and find the process tedious, full concept attainment and retention occur differently for a range of learners. We can't solve all issues at once, but if we take the time to look at them carefully through the lens of our students, things will eventually improve. If we respect the process, we make progress.
Kapoor , A. A. (2020, September 25). How to use anonymous surveys to get student feedback. IT Teaching Resources. Retrieved January 4, 2022, from https://teachingresources.stanford.edu/resources/how-to-use-anonymous-surveys-to-get-student-feedback/
The Literary Alliance. (n.d.). Will Durant quotes. Quote.org. Retrieved January 4, 2022, from https://quote.org/quote/we-are-what-we-repeatedly-do-excellence-645773
Author: Lauren Ewe
Leave a Reply