Friday, March 25, 2016

Teaching Perseverance

Over the past two days, I've had students tell me they didn't want to try because it was too hard or they were afraid to fail.  I took the line that you have to practice to become good, just like in basketball.  Its fine to fail because each time you fail, you learn something and get better. Its almost like some of these students refuse to open themselves to the idea they can improve if they are willing to try.

Central Park, Basketball, Game, YouthI'm struggling to find ideas that might help these students move past their fear or mindset into being willing to try and try again.  I know there is a push for perseverance but in order for that to happen, there has to be a mind shift and I'm not sure how to accomplish that.

They are willing to spend hours upon hours practicing basketball but they are unwilling to expend the same energy on learning math.  I know there has to be a change in their mindset but I needed to find suggestions on the "How to change".

In the process of reading up on ways to change this mindset from "I can't" to "I can", using ways that are easy to implement, I came across a couple that sounded possible.

1.  The ADEPT method.  Each letter stands for a way of presenting the material.  A stands for Analogy or what is it like.  D is for Diagram or how do you visualize it.  E refers to example or experience it,  P is for plain English or what does it really mean, and last is the technical definition.  This appears to be a way to show students, help them understand it, and experience it.

I admit that sometimes I'm not sure how to create a way for visualizing a concept.  Its taken me a while to figure that out for some concepts but I still have others I'm working on.  I suspect this is important for many students.  This does have a lovely diagram for i and its cycle.  Its one I plan to keep for the next time I teach this material.

2.  This article provided 25 ways to change the mindset. One of the most interesting things in this list is to stop seeking approval because it slows down the learning.  This agrees with something I read from the teaching point of view that you need to praise the process not the person.  Many of my students who "can't" do it are the same ones who seek approval on every single problems.

I also liked the emphasizing growth over speed.  Learning fast does not always mean learning well.  In addition, one of the items says we should disassociate learning from failure.  The one thing I never do is allow a few minutes for reflection at the end of class.  Check out this list, it has some nice thoughts.

3. Mindsetkit has tons of real suggestions for helping change student mindset.  The suggestions come from many different sources including Khan academy, Jo Boaler, and others.  Some of the links are videos, some are ways of changing your teaching to help encourage students and others are designed to have students learn to analyze.

I checked out several activities and I like them.  One I looked at has the teacher passing out a completed assignment and have the students to write feedback and suggestions to revise it.  This changes learning from the teacher to the students.  In addition they are seeing how the assignment should be done.

The "game" that caught my eye on this site is the one where students intentionally make mistakes and the others have to find them.  The mistakes can be ones they made or create.  I think I'm going to try this on Monday in my classes.

I associate changing student mindset with helping them develop perseverance.  I am going to try to find more suggestions for how to change mindset and share them.

NOTE:  My internet has been up and down recently.