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Empower Students

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5 Chapters

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Medium 9781945349249

Chapter 1: Exploration: Empower Students to Become Curious About Their Values

Lauren Porosoff Solution Tree Press ePub

EMPOWER

Chapter 1

• • • • •

EXPLORATION

Empower Students to Become Curious About Their Values

If students don’t decide how they want to focus their energy, someone or something will decide for them. For example, we as their teachers give them messages about what’s most important all the time. Have you spoken to your students as if your class or a particular assignment were the most important thing ever? Or given a suggestion—to practice trumpet more often, proofread their essays more slowly, take fifteen minutes a day to review Spanish conjugations—as if they have absolutely nothing else going on in their lives? Multiply those messages by all the different teachers who give them. Then add messages from family, friends, work, local and world events, music, television, social media, their own bodies, and everything else that vies for their attention. Don’t forget to add all the thoughts buzzing around in their developing brains: hopes, fears, plans, memories, worries, and desires. It’s a lot.

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Medium 9781945349249

Chapter 3: Participation: Empower Students to Create Opportunities to Enact Their Values

Lauren Porosoff Solution Tree Press ePub

EMPOWER

Chapter 3

• • • • •

PARTICIPATION

Empower Students to Create Opportunities to Enact Their Values

Have you ever found yourself saying something like, “It’s March! Don’t you know by now that you should be taking notes?” If you say on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to take notes, you might think that by Friday, they’ll all take notes. But if you’re a teacher, you know that some students will still need this reminder on Friday. Even if you’ve told the students in the past that they should take notes, even if they’ve taken notes every day, and even if they’ve experienced the rewards of note taking, some won’t take notes unless you tell them to. That’s not because they’re unintelligent or irresponsible. It’s because they’re so used to being told what to do that when they’re not explicitly told to do something, they don’t do it.

It turns out that verbal instructions tend to make learners more likely to follow the instructions and less likely to notice cues in their environments that might suggest a different course of action (Haas & Hayes, 2006; Hayes, Brownstein, Haas, & Greenway, 1986; Hayes, Brownstein, Zettle, Rosenfarb, & Korn, 1986; Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 1999). Telling students to take notes will lead to note taking more quickly than waiting for them to figure out how to take notes in a way that helps them remember and process information. But it will also make them more likely to wait to receive orders to take notes—in other classes, and even on other days in your class—and less likely to notice when note taking is helpful and when it’s pointless. Over time, following so many instructions leaves students less able to take charge of their own learning.

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Medium 9781945349249

Chapter 8: Empowering Dialogue: How to Activate Student Values Through One-on-One Conversations

Lauren Porosoff Solution Tree Press ePub

EMPOWER

Chapter 8

• • • • •

EMPOWERING DIALOGUE

How to Activate Student Values Through One-on-One Conversations

With your whole class, you can help students become more aware of their values, commit to behaviors that are consistent with their values, and develop the willingness to struggle with any thoughts and feelings that might get in the way. But in the privacy of one-on-one interactions, you can help students examine their behaviors more closely.

Imagine that Marla and Ned are lab partners in biology class. Marla raises her hand frequently and often receives praise for going above and beyond. Even though she has lots of friends, she won’t talk about her feelings when she doesn’t get perfect grades; she just stays up later and works harder the next time. Meanwhile, Ned has trouble listening in class, and he finds that even when he tries his best, he still gets low grades. Explaining his thinking is particularly effortful for him, and most assignments involve explaining his thinking. After school, he’s so tired that usually he flops onto the couch to watch cartoons with his little sister, or sometimes he makes up funny songs on his guitar. His parents work late and get angry when he hasn’t completed his homework by the time they get home.

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Medium 9781945349249

Chapter 11: Empowering Curriculum: How to Incorporate Student Values Into Your Course Content

Lauren Porosoff Solution Tree Press ePub

EMPOWER

Chapter 11

• • • • •

EMPOWERING CURRICULUM

How to Incorporate Student Values Into Your Course Content

Academic tasks can become opportunities for students to discover, develop, and act in accordance with their own values. How can your course itself empower your students to make their lives meaningful?

Consider the fact that most actions have multiple purposes. Imagine a dad making grilled chicken for his children’s dinner. Maybe he wants his children to eat something rich in protein, and they like chicken. Maybe he hates shopping, and he already has chicken in the fridge. Maybe he also has summer tomatoes on hand, and they’d taste delicious with grilled chicken. Maybe he likes being outside in the warm weather, and he can grill outside. Maybe he’s tired today, and grilled chicken doesn’t produce a big mess to clean up. The dad might grill chicken to serve all of these purposes.

Similarly, the tasks we give our students serve multiple purposes. A Spanish teacher who has her eighth graders form pairs and discuss their plans for the upcoming weekend might have many purposes in mind. She wants her students to practice conversational Spanish. She wants to see how well they use the future tense. Some of her students will be performing in a jazz concert this weekend, and she wants to give them an opportunity to tell their peers about it. She thinks students learn best from each other and that partner work makes off-task behavior less likely. Finally, she thinks her principal will drop by her classroom today, and her principal is a big proponent of partner work.

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Medium 9781945349249

Chapter 12: Empowering Inquiry: How to Assess the Impact of Helping Students Pursue Their Values

Lauren Porosoff Solution Tree Press ePub

EMPOWER

Chapter 12

• • • • •

EMPOWERING INQUIRY

How to Assess the Impact of Helping Students Pursue Their Values

Most of us teachers think about how to improve our practice, but we don’t necessarily collect and analyze our own data to see what’s working. Why would we? We have enough to do during our so-called free time without making more work for ourselves.

But as the teacher, you are with your students throughout the week and can see the impact of your work. You’re in the position to make adjustments because you understand how they’ll work for your students, in the context of your school’s schedule, physical layout, and administrative priorities. You have the professional judgment to question your own work and the capacity to innovate and improvise as necessary. Besides, if you don’t tell your own story about what’s working in your classroom, who will—and what will that story say?

The process of asking questions about your own practice, collecting and analyzing your own data, and using those data to make informed changes is called action research (Sagor, 2011). To do action research, you don’t need money or special resources. All you need is a willingness to examine and improve your practice. Action research can be tremendously empowering, because you get to choose variables that matter to you and figure out ways to systematically observe and collect your own data, as opposed to being someone else’s subject. You also get to watch your students benefit from improvements to your practice. You can see what works in your classroom, for your students, and make adjustments as you see fit. As you make those decisions, orderly data can only help.

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