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Chapter 4: The Probationer Mindset

McNeece, Alexander Solution Tree Press PDF

CHAPTER 4T H E P R O B AT I O N E R M I N D S E TAdam was like a flash of lightning on the football field. He was a scrambling junior varsity quarterback who used his feet more than his arm. He scored touchdown after touchdown for the team I coached. From those first days ofAugust practice, Adam was a leader. It was not until school began in September thatI discovered the type of student Adam was.Football coaches do more than teach players a game. They are caring adults in a young person’s life—a protective factor that improves a student’s odds of resilience(Center on the Developing Child, n.d.). They help to build an affective connection between the player, team, and school—relatedness. As a coach, I had many conversations with my players, listening to their questions and difficulties, and helping where needed. This was important, because it was my job to make sure my players stayed academically eligible to play. This meant that a student had to begin the season with over a 2.0 grade point average (GPA) and stay above that mark during the season.

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Chapter 2: The Agitator Mindset

McNeece, Alexander Solution Tree Press PDF

CHAPTER 2T H E A G I TAT O R M I N D S E TEvery teacher in the world has had students with the agitator mindset. These students’ behavior disrupts class, foiling the teacher’s opportunity to educate. The teacher engrains these students’ names in his or her mind. I met my first student with an agitator mindset when I was a student teacher in a fifth-grade class. Brad was tall, energetic, intelligent, and compulsive. His teacher had moved him to every corner of the room to sit with a combination of students around him to inspire a behavior change. Brad interrupted everyone’s learning. The morning I began student teaching, Brad was in his new assigned seat—by the floor next to the teacher’s desk.It was only early September.Brad did not do most of his work. The work he did was rushed and incomplete.Brad did not stay in his seat. Brad would joke about the classmates around him. He joked about the teacher and me. He was disengaged from the content, his classmates, and his teacher.

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Chapter 3: The Retreater Mindset

McNeece, Alexander Solution Tree Press PDF

CHAPTER 3T H E R E T R E AT E R M I N D S E TEighth grader Stacy sat quietly in my language arts class. I found out shortly after the school year began that she lived with her older brother, and her father, who had an addiction. Stacy did nothing in class—less than nothing. She completed no assignments. Asking where her work was, I learned, would lead to her acting out. Stacy and all of her teachers had developed an unspoken truce—allow her to sit quietly in class, and she wouldn’t blow up. During a conference, her father seemed to care, but we never saw any follow-through. She didn’t take part in extracurricular activities, and she didn’t seem to engage with students, either. She seemed to be withdrawing from the world—but we had a breakthrough during a theater game.Stacy, who had never wanted to say anything, was the first to volunteer for a character-development game called teachers and students. In the game, the students acting as teachers give one-sentence commands, and the students do exactly what they say—in a way. The students attempt to seek out the teachers’ true wishes and use their words against them. They must comply, but they are supposed to flip the command. It’s much like how the book character Amelia Bedelia behaves. When

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Chapter 1: Student Engagement

McNeece, Alexander Solution Tree Press PDF

CHAPTER 1STUDENT ENGAGEMENTTeacher instruction either inspires or dulls engagement. The launching (contexts) and consolidating (situations) that you create influence students more than any other aspect of their education (Parsons et al., 2014). Other elements can inspire students, but your teaching practices are at the center of a student’s desire to learn in your classroom. Sadly, educators often focus improvement initiatives on changing students, not changing their own practices. I, too, have been guilty of this. All the research in this book (including Dweck, 2006; Fisher & Frey, 2015; Muhammad,2018; Ryan & Deci, 2000a, 2000b) tells us that educators are the ones who need to adjust. It also tells us that when we do adjust and use the most effective strategies, our students are more likely to succeed (Hattie, 2012).How should educators and other stakeholders define engagement? What is its significance? How can they measure it? What are its elements? How can educators and stakeholders implement those elements? We’ll answer these questions in this chapter.

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Chapter 6: The Academician Mindset

McNeece, Alexander Solution Tree Press PDF

CHAPTER 6THE ACADEMICIAN MINDSETValentina was a seventh grader with a passion for writing, and not just the process or the composition of a story. She asked the most interesting questions about how plot arc impacts the reader’s interest in a story and how character development is intertwined in that process. She found many of the class assignments too easy.Outside of school, Valentina was a voracious reader of young adult novels. She had a different book with her all the time. What the class read over weeks, she consumed in an evening. Valentina also wrote at home, working on her own young adult novel similar to what she was reading. She brought in chapters for me to read. Once, she even skipped bringing in the simple vocabulary homework and gave me another chapter. She did eventually turn in the vocabulary work, but it was clear where her focus was. Valentina was more interested in the mission of exploring writing than doing a simple homework chore.Valentina’s comments in class were so insightful they sometimes confused many of her thirteen-year-old classmates. She was thinking deeply about the concepts we were exploring. I feared I may have been an obstacle to her learning. I needed to do something different.

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Chapter 7: Engagement Culture Schoolwide

McNeece, Alexander Solution Tree Press PDF

CHAPTER 7E N G A G E M E N T C U LT U R ESCHOOLWIDEEarlier chapters focus on grades preK–12 teachers. This chapter supports teachers and administrators, since principals and district leaders have a broader reach and can do much to establish schoolwide culture. Systematic changes precede culture changes. You can lead the steps to systematic change.Here, I will explain why staff may resist change, so you can get buy-in. Then, I will walk you through the steps you’ll need to take to create a culture of engagement in a school at large.Resistance to ChangeWhy would anyone ever fight against developing high levels of student engagement?The short answer is that our school culture is deeply engrained and difficult to change(Muhammad, 2018). There might be pushback when your team decides on what strategies to implement to increase engagement. It is important to know why some educators push back and to help them understand their feelings of resistance and why they should join together as a team to implement new strategies in the classroom.

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Chapter 5: The Aficionado Mindset

McNeece, Alexander Solution Tree Press PDF

CHAPTER 5THE AFICIONADO MINDSETIt would be accurate to describe eighth grader Aaliyah as obsessed with her grades.In school, she listened to her teachers, kept organized, and always turned in her work on time. Teachers and the principal regularly gave her the student-of-theweek award to recognize her excellence.Every day, when she got off her bus, Aaliyah made the quick walk home with her little brother. Although her parents were not home but still at work, unprompted, she immediately sat down with a snack to complete her homework. Like clockwork every day, even on Fridays, homework was the routine. If she had questions, she would video chat with her father. Unlike many students in her class, homework included studying. Before her tests, she independently made flash cards or study guides. She sought out her parents after dinner to quiz her on those resources. After completing her work for the day, Aaliyah read for pleasure or attended volleyball practice.

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Chapter 6: Introducing Projects for Middle and High School

Kaiser, Ann Solution Tree Press PDF

CHAPTER 6

Introducing Projects for Middle and High School

What you know is far less important than what you can do with what you know.

—Tony Wagner

If you are a middle or high school teacher, chances are you have complained about how much content you are required to teach. Science, in particular, seems to be the focus of an ongoing debate concerning what topics teachers should teach and in how much detail. History curricula often become the subject of similar debates. The debate over breadth and depth is not new. The idea of exposing students to new ideas and preparing them for the future has always been at the heart of education. But the explosion in knowledge and information over the past one hundred to one hundred fifty years makes the task of imparting all known facts impossible. Newer initiatives and standards, such as the NGSS, stress the importance of core ideas or key understandings in a wide range of disciplines (NGSS Lead States, 2013). Yet, in many cases, textbooks and large-scale testing still embrace a broad survey approach. It is enough to make any teacher’s head spin!

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Chapter 5: Introducing Projects for Elementary School

Kaiser, Ann Solution Tree Press PDF

CHAPTER 5

Introducing Projects for Elementary School

An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.

—Friedrich Engels

Think of things you can easily remember—something made these things more relevant, useful, or alive. Whether it was learning how to ride a bike, using various computer applications, playing a game, or finding the best way to get to work, much of our lifelong learning involves doing. No one would dream of teaching young children to swim by setting them at desks and showing them notes and graphics of different strokes. You need the sensation of developing a way to breathe and move when surrounded by water to truly learn how to swim. You need to sputter and blow some bubbles to learn how to avoid inhaling water; you need to feel the resistance of the water as it pushes back to figure out how to use your arms and legs effectively. And, as parents and teachers, we would never let a novice swimmer in the water without being nearby for support and assistance.

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Chapter 6: How -- Facilitating Change

Curtis, Greg Solution Tree Press PDF

CHAPTER 6

HOW

Facilitating Change

I

n this chapter, we will return to the premise that traditional strategic planning has not been the proper approach to transformation. Perhaps it even inadvertently stifled well-intentioned change efforts. The goal of traditional strategic planning (an input) was to create a strategic plan (an output). We then followed the script laid out in the plan, full of activities (more inputs) and documents (outputs generated by those inputs). We all stayed very busy focusing on what the organization was doing.

But we largely left out student learning, especially when it came to measuring the success of our strategic plan. We often measured success only by the completion of the plan’s inputs and outputs. If we completed the steps of the plan, we could put a big green check mark in that box. Schools would say that they started with their mission when they developed a strategic plan, and this is largely true. Their measures of success, however, very rarely related to this mission. According to traditional strategic planning, we believed that if we did A and B, C would just happen in a linear and causal way—if we developed a service learning program, all students would become global citizens. We believed this to such a degree that we often neglected to define what C looked like and what evidence would demonstrate its achievement.

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Chapter 4: Finishing Strong

Boogren, Tina H. Solution Tree Press PDF

CHAPTER 4

Finishing Strong

Ending the calendar year strong rather than exhausted, depressed, and bloated greatly appeals to me, and so I work extra hard to stay conscious of my choices during October, November, and December. The same can be done with the school year and this work we’re doing for ourselves. Challenge yourself to fully commit to the next nine weeks’ worth of invitations without breaking promises to yourself. Write reminders on sticky notes to keep yourself going and to cheer yourself on.

Because the end of the school year can get chaotic, it’s even more essential that you engage in this work and take time every week to incorporate these invitations.

You can do this. I know you can do this. You know you can do it, too. You wouldn’t break a promise to a loved one, so decide that you’re not going to break a promise to yourself, either. This year you’re going to finish strong by taking care of yourself and bringing your best energy to school!

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Chapter 4: Starting With Activities That Support Engineering Thinking and Skills

Kaiser, Ann Solution Tree Press PDF

CHAPTER 4

Starting With Activities That

Support Engineering Thinking and Skills

You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.

—Richard Branson

R

eading about the EDP is a good start, but including some of the practices and ways of thinking in your current curriculum is where the real learning begins. If you are convinced of the why, it is time to consider the how. Blending in small steps and short activities with what you already do can impact your classroom culture and establish practices that will make including engineering design projects a natural next step.

This chapter gives you some ideas for those small steps through activities tied to parts of the EDP and that focus on the skills so important for future learning and employment. These steps provide easy entry points to consider, and they support the culture shifts and hallmarks discussed in chapter

1 (page 7). They are short (generally one class or less) and easily adapted for and implemented in most classrooms. Some may also serve as hooks for the longer engineering design projects in chapters

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Chapter 1: Building an Engineering Design Culture

Kaiser, Ann Solution Tree Press PDF

CHAPTER 1

Building an Engineering

Design Culture

Without a doubt, the ability to connect the dots is rare, prized and valuable. Connecting dots, solving the problem that hasn’t been solved before, seeing the pattern before it is made obvious, is more essential than ever before.

—Seth Godin

I

s your classroom culture one of collecting dots or connecting dots? Are your students exploring the messy and complex world around them or moving along a very structured path from A to B to test time? In his book Creating Innovators, Tony Wagner (2012) notes:

Increasingly in the twenty-first century, what you know is far less important than what you can do with what you know. The interest in and ability to create new knowledge to solve new problems is the single most important skill that all students must master today. (p. 142)

Step back and think about how often you, or your students, say the following phrases.

• “It’s OK to make mistakes.”

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Chapter 3: How -- Putting Impacts at the Center

Curtis, Greg Solution Tree Press PDF

CHAPTER 3

HOW

Putting Impacts at the Center

U

p to this point, we have learned that there is something fundamentally wrong with how we have pursued educational change, which has led to a lot of wasted energy and very little substantive progress to show for it. We also discussed I-O-I as a framework that can guide thinking and actions in much more effective and lasting ways. This chapter will address the first in a series of hows—strategies and processes for enacting the framework. The driving question for this chapter is simple: How might we choose and act on essential learning impacts for our students?

Most of this chapter focuses on teaching and learning structures, such as assessment and curriculum design. Specifically, the upcoming sections encourage educators to do three things: (1) focus on the future, (2) clarify goals, and (3) operationalize impacts.

Since I-O-I is learning centered, learning goals drive planning and organizational goal setting.

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Medium 9781949539271

Chapter 3: Finding Balance

Boogren, Tina H. Solution Tree Press PDF

CHAPTER 3

Finding Balance

Welcome to the next phase of the school year. I think you’ll like it here. These nine weeks are all about finding balance. In general, most educators return from winter break and start to move out of the tough disillusionment phase into a more relaxed, enjoyable time of the school year. A bit of time off from school hopefully was an opportunity to catch your breath and reconnect with yourself and your loved ones. Ideally, you were able to get some well-deserved sleep, and the promise of a New Year’s resolution might help you kick-start these next nine weeks. During this time, we’re going to get you back in your groove. You should see your students starting to show some growth here, and your focus will be on striving for calm and balance between your professional life and personal life.

The invitations for the next nine weeks are all about helping find your stride again—particularly as you recover from the disillusionment phase of the previous nine weeks.

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