Sunday, July 14, 2013

Foster the "Do" : 5 Tips for Empowering Learners

Insights arrive when we surround ourselves in nature! 

My husband is a huge provocateur of my a good way of course. This morning, during our beautiful hike, we talked all things design, learning, usability, and psychology and somehow arrived at the conclusion that with kids and learning, it's all about fostering action that will lead them to success in adulthood.

 Yes, we must facilitate critical thinking and expose students to all- important principles, but the bottom line is this: the world is waiting for the action, for the manifestation of all of the learning they do while in and out of school. As educators we must get our students to not only "do" but to also believe that they are capable of acting upon and solving big problems!

So how do we ensure that we are fostering the "do" in our students?

Here are a couple of ideas that come to mind, especially as I  think about designing a do- oriented learning environment:

  • Make relationship a priority: It only takes a minute at the door with eye contact and a hello to establish that a student's presence in class is important. Of course there are students who are uncomfortable with this routine and some might say there are cultural factors to keep in mind. I am not dismissing these ideas, simply reinforcing that we can start off our time with students with rituals that show them how much they matter.  If they have a way they prefer to greet us, like a fist bump, why not try it out?

  • Ensure trust in the classroom by fostering a climate where mistakes are celebrated and enjoyed. In my class last year we made spoofs out of our grammar and spelling errors, inspired by the posters of, Let's eat, grandma! 

  • Listen...carefully.. to the messages, both through body language and verbally, that our students reveal in the classroom. If students are giving the indications that they are frustrated, don't rescue, but affirm that great accomplishments require a lot of sweat and moments of challenge. In my classroom, students could signal to me that they needed a brief walk outside to cool off and readjust. 

  • Reflect regularly, both individually and in groups on what is working in the classroom. By this I mean that students need to have regular reflection time, and educators/administrators do as well. I found that using tools like Haiku Deck fostered incredible reflections from my students. As my students reflected using a visual medium they seemed to build appreciation for their hard work!  
Here is a student's Haiku Deck reflection after she presented her portfolio of learning to our school community!

  • Build appreciation for others by celebrating hard work! Why not have rituals for spontaneous group celebrations like a quick play of a musical theme song or a group chant when a member of class has overcome an obstacle or worked hard for success? 
I could go on and on with ideas, but I am most curious about how you "foster the do" and empower your students. Please share! 

Oh, but wait, there's more!  I can't leave you without sharing this famous Yoda scene. Whenever I think about the idea of try vs. do, it comes to mind! 

1 comment:

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