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Medium 9781936765034

Chapter Three Avoiding Reality Wars

Laura Lipton Solution Tree Press ePub

CHAPTER THREE

Avoiding Reality Wars

Our ways of viewing the world both empower and trap us. These mental maps have a profound influence on what we see, how we see, and how we make sense of things. While they help us make sense, they also impair our capacity for open-minded exploration. The caution is that we do not let our preferences become our prescriptions. Well-structured data-based investigations reduce certainty, promoting a spirit of inquiry as groups engage in framing problems and seeking solutions. As former U.S. Senator Daniel Moynihan has said, “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts” (Greenspan, 2007, p. 95).

Mental models are tenacious and often remain hidden from view. This tendency to stubbornly hold on to unexplored perspectives and beliefs is compounded by the social, emotional, and cognitive complexity of working in groups. Skillful application of the collaborative learning cycle keeps groups and group members open to surprise, producing purposeful uncertainty and conscious curiosity.

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Medium 9781936764518

17 Foster Academic Optimism

Eric Jensen Solution Tree Press ePub

It is likely you’ve started to see how all of the ideas and strategies in this book work together. For example, if you want to raise expectations, you’ll need gutsy goals. However, to make them happen, you’ll need more optimism and hope. Plus, you’ll have to give better-quality feedback. Every strategy plays off of, and depends on, another strategy. If you’re thinking this is quite a complex puzzle, you’re right. Welcome to the world of high-performance teaching. Here is the good news: you only need to do one thing at a time. That’s it. Do one at a time until it’s automatic. Then, you’re ready for the next thing. This chapter is all about creating a classroom climate where students believe they can achieve crazy high gutsy goals. In school, students understand quickly whether they are good at something (or not). Like most of us, they learn to predict how they’ll do in class, based partially on past experiences. This prediction of expectations is important because it regulates how much effort they’re willing to expend. As a teacher, you should know why you expend energy to create this type of class climate.

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Medium 9781936763955

2 Creating Brain-Friendly Learning Environments

Gregory, Gayle; Kaufeldt, Martha; Mattos, Mike Solution Tree Press ePub

Creating Brain-Friendly Learning Environments

We’ve seen that educators must routinely—even daily—differentiate quality learning opportunities in order to meet diverse student needs and preferences and to enable students to succeed in core instruction. Understanding specifically how to structure differentiated instruction in a way that will increase the chances of student success, however, demands that educators have some basic grounding in learners’ biological and psychological needs. While a number of factors shape the brain’s ability to survive and thrive, none are more critical than the classroom climate and environment. Beyond its power to influence the development of a learner’s brain, classroom environment can also play a role in students’ overall physical and emotional well-being. As we see in this chapter, multiple factors influence the classroom environment and climate—everything from body language to room décor affects learning.

Few teachers entered the field in order to spend more time thinking about brain science, but the more educators know and understand about how the brain operates, the more sensitive they can be to their students’ needs and the better able they’ll be to optimize learners’ success. Fortunately, a lot of information is available on the subject of the learning environment, and more research emerges daily with implications for classroom practice. Although neuroscience will never tell us how to teach, this ever-growing bank of data on neuroeducation leaves little doubt about the influence of neuroscientific principles on educational practices. John Geake (2009), a professor and cofounder of the Oxford Cognitive Neuroscience Education Forum, reports, “Relevant and useful professional and classroom applications of educational neuroscience will increasingly become available as we gradually come to understand more about brain function through neuroscience research which answers educational questions about learning, memory, motivation and so on” (p. 10). The best practices educators can employ to leverage what neuroscience teaches us about the effect of environment on learning involve creating a classroom environment that supports trial and error, encourages risk taking, promotes collaboration, and includes meaningful, relevant, and engaging instruction. By understanding the fundamental elements of a brain-friendly classroom we outline in this chapter, educators can be better prepared to incorporate those elements into their own classroom environment and, in doing so, remove some of the most persistent stumbling blocks students encounter as they work to achieve learning goals.

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Medium 9781947604117

Chapter 9

Kajitani, Alex Solution Tree Press PDF

9

Let’s Talk About Race

Bring Ethnic Identity and

Culturally Relevant Curriculum

Into Your Classroom

If you teach in a school like mine, where traditionally minority students are actually the majority, yet most of the teachers are white, then it is highly likely that race and ethnicity play a large role in your school culture—even if (especially if ) these topics are seldom talked about. Consider the following scenarios.

Scenario One: It’s 7:30 a.m. on a chilly Tuesday morning, and I’m unlocking the door to my classroom. David (pronounced dahveed), one of my top students, runs up to me and begins profusely apologizing. “Mr. Kajitani, I’m so sorry. I didn’t do my homework last night.” Since he is not one to miss his homework assignments,

I question him as to why. “My uncle was at work last night, and ‘la migra’ [what my Mexican American students call U.S. Citizenship and

Immigration Services] came to his work and hauled him away. They put him on a bus back to Mexico, and my aunt, who lives with us, was freaking out all night. I couldn’t get to my homework.”

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Medium 9781936763917

3 Focus

Douglas Reeves Solution Tree Press ePub

The element of focus suggests that successful leaders must make conscious choices not only about what they will do but also about what they will not do. These leaders exhibit calendar integrity—that is, they use their time in a way that aligns with their values and priorities. This is worth a personal analysis, and you can complete it within just a few minutes. For a full week, keep a detailed record of how you spend your time. Many apps are available that can help you do this quickly and easily and create a pie chart showing your actual time allocation. Compare the pie chart to your top three priorities. The difference is, almost invariably, astounding. I’ve never heard a superintendent say, “My top priorities are to have meetings about compliance issues, personnel hearings, and board subcommittees,” but a quick look at the calendars of many system leaders suggests that these are their priorities.

This chapter is about focus and fragmentation. My essential argument is that focused leaders help their colleagues perform better and achieve greater levels of student performance, while fragmented leaders are like moths to the flame of every education fad. The chapter concludes with some practical advice on how leaders can weed their education gardens and take precautions against the lure of fragmentation.

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