Posts tagged teaching
Where did it all go? Thoughts about student memory and retention

Have you ever taught something and your class really seemed to get it, only to revisit the concept a short while later, and it’s as if they never heard of it? Better yet, have you patted yourself on the back after your students aced an exam only for you to ask a related question two days later and get back a class full of blank stares? It’s almost as if their minds were one big etch-a-sketch that had once memorized lots of information before being wiped clean.

If you’re like me, you’ve had that experience more than once. And we all know how it feels. It can be one of the most frustrating experiences for a teacher, seemingly invalidating all of the hard work — in terms of preparation, content delivery and reinforcement — of the past many weeks. Why does this happen and what can teachers do to ensure that students properly process and retain key information?

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Foster a growth mindset

A fixed mindset refers to the belief that skill and capacity are fundamentally attached to a person’s genetic composition. Either you “have it” and are good at it, or you’re not. This applies to everything from academics (“I’m not much of a math guy”) to business and social situations (“I don’t know marketing,”) as well as music, athletics, and more.

Those with growth mindsets, on the other hand, tend to believe that skills can be learned, at least to some degree of proficiency. They maintain and that success depends mainly on one’s willingness to learn, practice and pursue their goals. These men and women are not content to rest on their laurels. They continuously strive to learn new things and to develop new capabilities. They do so in part because of a great drive to succeed. But they also possess a deep sense that they can stretch their inborn talents if they are willing to make the effort.

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Why Johnny Can’t (or Won’t) Behave

We’ve all met Johnny. He’s the kid who simply won’t behave in class. He can’t seem to sit still and pay attention. He doesn’t want to follow our rules or conform to our expectations. He won’t keep his hands to himself and respect others’ things. It almost seems like he comes to school each day with a willful intent to disrupt and make our lives miserable.

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