What's in a mistake?
How afraid are you of making mistakes? I have to admit that in certain areas I'm more scared than in others. When I first moved to Sweden from the UK, I felt pretty scared of speaking Swedish.
For two years, the embarrassment of speaking like a duck was stronger than the social and business benefits of communicating in the local language.And then I began to see that I was losing out socially, and professionally. So, quite suddenly I made up my mind to speak Swedish and I went to school and rapidly learned the words and grammar, and sounded like a duck. Swedish is an easy language, once you have decided to learn it.
How scared are your students of making mistakes? I'm sure a quick survey of your class would reveal that some students are not even willing to publicly state that they are scared of making mistakes. On my visits as a public speaker to schools, have asked students the question “Who's afraid of making mistakes” and seen how they look at each other to check if it's OK to make such an admission in public. Then we talk about the look they just gave each other; and what it can mean for their lives.
In any class where mistakes are taboo, the learning is limited. Where there is stronger focus on the Pain, there is less focus on the Benefits. So the question that you have to answer is how to promote the view that making mistakes is actually a learning technique. How can you do that?
I suggest that you become a role model, and make some mistakes in class, as a demonstration of what you believe; if you believe.
The Educator's Mindset
Mission Awakening the Learner, Deepening the Learning
Identity Guide, Facilitator
Values Curiosity, Humour and Courage
Mind-set “Wrong answers are the doorway to deeper learning”
Action Ask open questions!
Risks of limiting mistake-making in the classrooms, and beyond
If we limit mistakes in the classroom we risk creating a culture of being inside “the box”, and losing creativity, enthusiasm, and joy. We risk creating a “Be Right, Do Right” society in which people are limited by the pre-existing rules of how things shall be done.
Mistakes can be better interpreted as learningThe ability to plan to make (manageable) mistakes, and learn from them will give students important life skills that will serve them in their unknown futures.
Mistakes are worth making, partly for the immediate learning, and partly for the long-term bravery that grows and guides the adult-to-be.
When students accept responsibility for their mistakes, learning becomes possible. Teachers may have to hold true that “Making mistakes is not the same as being a mistake.” and communicate this to their students through their actions in the classroom. How teachers respond to “the wrong answer” will be a vital opportunity for showing what they believe in.
Students who have experienced elsewhere that mistakes are painful and to be avoided will naturally challenge anyone who lives by a different code.
As teacher you can guide your students to see that although you cannot undo a mistake, you can choose how to respond to it. Before you request that a student sees the mistake as a step towards a desirable result, you will have to show them that you can do the same thing.
In the book "A Coaching Approach to Education", I list a number of manageable ways of including errors, mistakes, and bloopers that will encourage students to believe that you see errors as a way ahead in learning.
The book is available here http://www.martinrichards.eu/books.html
Growth starts when you can see room for improvement.So, what are you scared of doing wrong in your classroom, and how are you going to manage that so that you can be a role model for the Magic of Mistakes?
Mistakes as incentive to learn
[I visit schools as a coach, I observe lessons and give teachers feedback.]
I was in the teachers’ copying room and I picked up a stray text from the photocopier. It looked like a newspaper article about the Napoleonic Wars. Without thinking, I started reading it as I walked to an empty chair in the staffroom. I sat down and continued to read.
There was something about this news article that was a bit curious. Naturally the Napoleonic Wars wouldn’t have been in the newspaper, nor on the radio, or TV for that matter, but there was something about the article that caught my attention, I read on.
About three-quarters of the way through the article, it hit me. Napoleon couldn’t possibly have heard the news from his generals on his walkie-talkie. I rushed ahead through the text and sure enough the text was full of small references to modernities that Napoleon could never have enjoyed. He could never had told Josephine that he loved her by sending a text message on his mobile phone.
Suddenly I had the urge to research the article to unveil the true dates, places and people...Then I read back through the first parts of the text, there were dates, and names of people and places that I had assumed were correct, but were they? Suddenly I had the urge to research the article to unveil the true dates, places and people; and indeed find out how Napoleon actually communicated with his generals. Was it pigeons, messengers on horseback, flags, mirrors?
At the end of a lesson you can use the Mistake Meter tool or the Self-grading tool to show your students that you value their taking risks, making mistakes and learning from them.
Ask students in turn at the end of the day, questions like these:
Prepare them for upcoming class activities that are more risky.
Let the students give themselves a grade from 1 to 10 for their willingness to make mistakes. "How willing were you to make mistakes today? How did that affect how much you learned?"
For some students, challenges their grade by asking them to justify their grade in some way.
The Benefits of Feedback
The benefits of lesson observation and feedback are many
Who wants Feedback? And how do you want it?
I was invited to give a talk at a gathering of teachers. The aim was to encourage the teachers to open up to feedback, from each other as well as their students.
I guessed that some teachers were already involved in some kind of observation and feedback activities in their teaching teams, and knew from personal experience that many teachers were initially resistant to the idea of head teachers or colleagues coming into their classrooms to observe and give feedback.
My strategy was to empower the teachers, to let them know that there were ways to manage the feedback that was already happening, and thereby open them up to other teachers giving them feedback.
In the book "A Coaching Approach to Education" I offer a rough transcript of the talk that I gave.
Direct Feedback and Coaching Feedback
Which of these feels most empowering for you?
Being in charge of when the feedback shall be done, by whom and what to focus on, i.e. asking for feedback, makes the feedback process and results more manageable. You can ask for what you want, when you want it, and use it as you wish. When students for example know that you are taking their feedback into consideration, they often calm down, show more consideration and respect, and learn more. You can give feedback to a colleague when they ask for it. That does not mean "when you think they need it"!
It's useful to base teacher-to-teacher feedback on an agreed set of principles and criteria.
These are usefully based on SCORE:
S hadow - generally getting to know the teacher’s situation from their point of view
C riteria - picking out some specifics to pay attention to during the upcoming observation
O bservation - The teacher observes their colleague in action during a lesson
R eflection - Together the teachers think back on and reflect on what happened during the lesson
E xperiment - Selecting some different activities, ways of thinking, ways of tackling issues etc.
Teacher asking students to give themselves feedback
We are sitting at the back of the classroom having watched a whole lesson unfold with its fair share of order and chaos, planned activities done and other activities not done, some students fully involved and other students less so.
The teacher has gathered in all the equipment and papers that were used in the lesson. The next thing on the schedule is lunch. The students return to their seats, waiting for the final instructions from their teacher.
The teacher stands at the front of the class and calmly asks each student in turn, these three questions:
The whole process takes about eight minutes, during which the students have revealed for themselves the results of their own efforts during the lesson; and allowed them to note at least one thing to do differently next time.
The process is carried out with order, respect and full involvement. The students listen with respect to each other’s learning and suggestions of what to do differently.
After the last student has spoken, there is a short pause until the teacher tells the students to go to lunch. Then there’s a rush for the door, and a delightful, youthful chaos as twenty students head towards food.
In my mind’s eye I can imagine this teacher start the next lesson with the same students with these three questions:
The Energetic Benefits of Using Open Questions
Open questions have the following characteristics:
All of the above affect the energy in the room. Some questions will raise the energy, i.e. the students' willingness to give answers and share what they are thinking and feeling.
Type of Question and their effects on the students' level of energy:
Open Increases, most of all
Half-open (framed) Increases somewhat
Multi choice Moderately increasing
Yes/no Moderately decreasing
Leading questions Decreases
Statement Decreases, most of all
Handover Could go either way
Here are examples of different types of teacher questions
What is your favourite _____?
What did you learn from the homework?
What are three examples of _____
Where might I find a _____
Which kind of _____ do you prefer: X, Y or Z?
When was the end of (historical event): 1987, 1914, 2014?
Do you like _____ ?
Is 1+2 = 2?
Since you have a _____ , you like _____ , don't you?
If you can ____, you need a _____?
_____ is good for your health.
The President of XXX was born in YYYY?
What more would you like to know about _____ ?
What's the next thing we shall take up in this discussion?
The students had found answers to the square root of target numbers such as 81, 100, 9000 and similar numbers. They had also used calculators to look up the square root of 80, 1000, 9.5 and similar integers and decimals. So far, so good.
Now they were looking for the square root of -81, -100 and -9000. Their calculators were displaying the word ERROR. So were the looks on their faces.
The teacher wanted the students minds to be fully open and ready fior what was to come next. For many students, this topic is a watershed moment. Success could move them towards being mathematicians; failure could stop them on their journey.In essence the conversations with the students, one-to-one and in small groups, went like this. Notice that most of the teacher's questions start with "What...", some are closed questions, others are leading...
T = Teacher
S = Student
T What’s the problem?
S (Looking at their calculator they said) It says ‘ERROR’
T So what’s the problem?
S We can’t answer the question.
T What are you looking for?
S A number that gives us -81 when multiplied by itself.
T How will you know when you have the right answer?
S When it doesn’t say “ERROR”
T What’s special about ‘square root’?
S It’s what you need to answer the question.
T You mean ‘the number that when multiplied by itself will give the target number’?
T What’s the target number?
T Is it?
S No, it’s minus eight-one.
T And what have you tried?
T And what have you not tried yet?
S Ah. Minus nine
T And what do you get when you try minus nine multiplied by minus nine.
S Is that it then?
T What’s the target number?
T Is it?
S No, it’s minus eight-one.
S So minus nine isn't the answer
S So what is? Can't you tell us?
T Not yet. What else have you tried?
S Nine, and minus nine
T And what have you not tried yet?
T And what do you get when you try a decimal?
S Like nine point zero?
T Give it a try. What do you get?
S Eighty-one. But not minus eighty-one.
T So what have you not tried yet?
S Can't you just tell us?
T Yes, but that would be stealing the learning from you!
S We have tried everything!!!
T You have tried whole numbers and real decimals. So what kind of number do you need?
S We need something else!
T Are you ready to hear about a different kind of number?
S There's a DIFFERENT kind of number???
T Are you ready to hear about a different kind of number?
T Then I am ready to tell you about …
Teach even more through empowering dialogue
Tune up your teaching questions to include coaching questions.
Steer the energy in the room , through your choice of questions.
Speed up your journey into the learning by asking better questions.
Preparation for asking open questions
Open questions are powerful, really powerful. They encourage students to give voice to what’s really going on for them, in the moment. You will be accessing their thought processes, making their thoughts more visible, revealing their values, dreams and fears. It’s good to be ready for what comes out when you open this potential Pandora’s Box.
FIRST - I encourage you to clean up your own inner dialogue, and use positive language.
Learn about your students inner dialogue. Use humour to establish a deeper connection with your students.
Three Benefits of Using Open Questions
Open questions have the following characteristics
Twelve Classroom Uses of "Open” Questions"
1. Assess learning.
2. Help a student to clarify a vague comment.
3. Prompt students to explore attitudes, values, or feelings (when appropriate).
4. Prompt students to see a concept from another perspective.
5. Ask a student to refine a statement or idea.
6. Prompt students to support their assertions and interpretations.
7. Direct students to respond to one another.
8. Prompt students to investigate a thought process.
9. Ask students to predict possible outcomes.
10. Prompt students to connect and organize information.
11. Ask students to apply a principle or formula.
12. Ask students to illustrate a concept with an example.
Techniques for making the best of students wrong answers
[Observe a lesson with me, and get ready to give the teacher some constructive feedback]
At this school the common language used in the classroom is English. We note that the teacher speaks English about half of the time, and uses French when she is teaching the French words. Perhaps French is not her native language, but she’s good at it.
The teacher turns on the projector and twenty French words are projected onto the white board. The class hushes as they visually take in the words that are in this exercise.
“I want English translations of these words”, the teacher instructs.
Each of the words is displayed one by one. The teacher says the word out loud, and uses it in a simple sentence. This gives the students but a short time, about 10 seconds, to guess the translation to English. The teacher takes out a square of paper from a box she is holding and calls a student’s name, turning to that student she indicates “Say it now!”.
During the next twelve minutes we hear three kinds of answers, according to the observation that we are making, that reveal the teacher's technique for dealing with students answers.
Vacant answer e.g. “dunno”, teacher simply moves on to next word on the list. She comes back to the word later in the exercise once all the words have been shown.
Wrong answer, the teacher investigates the connection with curiosity and humour, “How did you come to that?”, “What’s the connection you made?”, “Where does that word come from?”, “What inspired you to say that?”.
Right answer, the teacher says “Mias oui.”. Sometimes she asks first “How did you come to that?” (exactly as her responses for the wrong answer)
In all cases the right answer, i.e. the English translation and the French words are then shown on the board. The teacher then asks the class as a whole about the possible connections between French word and English word.
Using guessing, humour and curiosity again. “How might these two words be connected?”, “What’s the connection?”, “What’s a way to connect these?”. And then the teacher moves on quickly to the next French word, allowing students just enough time to write down the English words if they need to.
What feedback would you give this teacher?
Teachers responses to Feedback
Teachers responses to feedback will be to Delete, Distort, Generalise, of course
We are all human. So what might your response have been in this situation... ?
I felt that I wasn’t quite reaching all the students in one particular class. We had had several great lessons during the terms so far where everyone seemed to be engaged and active in their own way and yet I had a nagging feeling that something was amiss.
Every teacher in the school had for months been working on ‘Formative Assessment’ and I realised that I too would benefit from similar feedback. The idea of bringing colleagues into the classroom to observe me and give me some fornmative assessment seemed too challenging since they were tied to their own timetables. And then I realised that there were already twenty students in the room whom I could ask. I was looking for a quick and easy way to get honest feedback from the students. The obvious solution was to use an anonymous feedback form, on paper.
During the term I had previously given the students in this class several sessions with feedback, in public and in private, so they were quite used to the idea and format of giving and receiving feedback. Towards the end of one lesson, I placed an "Excellent / Good / OK / Poor" feedback form at the front of the class and invited the students to make a mark where they assessed the quality of my lessons (in general) to be. At the end of the lesson I moved to the back of the room, tidying up, and the students made their marks as they left the room.
I had chosen 4 categories to avoid getting too many “middle” answers. I anticipated there would be a spread of answers across the range. I hoped for a few “Excellent” marks.I got a wake-up call.
Although the majority of the marks were Excellent and Good, there were two marks under Poor.
I found it oddly difficult to focus on the generally high mark that the class had given me. What stuck out in my mind were the two Poor marks, and that I had no idea who had made them. I realised that I had opened up a channel of communication with the students that was different and more useful to the usual classroom situation.
GROW Questions: When to use them?
Sample Grow Questions - Cheat Sheet
You can never have too many of these open questions, especially when you are a novice. Use these words on this cheat sheet. I did!
With practice, you will not need the cheat sheet as much, and after a while, you will not need it at all.
What would you like to focus on today?
What is on your mind?
What has happened since last time we met?
What is the most important of these different issues?
What have you learnt since our last discussion?
Specifically, what do you want to achieve?
If you could have one wish granted, what would you ask for?
What do you want to be different when we are done here?
What do you want to happen that’s not happening yet?
What is important to you right now?
What results do you want from this coaching?
How challenging is your goal?
How much can you personally affect the results?
What have you done about the situation so far?
What’s happening right now?
Where are you in relation to your goal?
What relevant skills / talents / knowledge / personal qualities do you already have?
Suppose you had already reached your goal. How did you get there?
If you had more resources/time/money, what would you do differently?
What could you do to make a difference?
What does your head say about this?
What does your heart say?
How have you dealt with a similar situation before?
Who needs to know about your plans?
What else can affect the result?
On a scale 1-10, how willing are you to go ahead?
What is the resistance within you to reaching your goal?
What is driving you to reach your goal?
What will you get out of the next step?
Socratic questioning = the key to egaging students
After writing the book "A Coaching Approach to Education", I have had the opportunity of asking Socratic questions (see below for examples) to groups of teenagers.
Whilst giving a lecture about "Making Good Choices in Life" I noticed that some of the students were beginning to show signs of resistance. They were turning away from me, talking to each other... Perhaps I had failed to fully engage them in why they should listen to me, or I was speaking from the perspective of an "Old White Male", or I was not including their immediate thoughts and feelings in the lecture; or all of those things and more?
Perhaps I had failed to fully engage them in listening to me?
Looking for a way to bring the lecture back to life, and make the best possible use of our time together I embarked on a series of questions about what I was talking about and their immediate responses (negative or positive) to what I was saying. I made a statement about money and asked "What exactly does this mean?" and waited for the students to fill in the gap.
There followed a deep discussion on the function of money, loyalty, health and friendship in the pursuit of happiness and fun. All I did was to make a handfull of statements and question their responses, thoughts and feelings as they occured during the time we were spending together.
Questions are at the heart of critical thinkingWhen you use Asking, not Telling you will see these effects
This series would not be complete without mention of Socratic Questions.
There are six types of Socratic questions:
2. Questioning assumptions
3. Questioning reasons and evidence
4. Questioning Viewpoints and Perspectives
5. Questioning implications and consequences
6. Asking questions about the question
Get the students thinking more about what exactly they are asking or thinking about. Use these basic 'tell me more' questions that gets them to go a little deeper.
What makes you say that?
Why are you saying that?
What exactly does this mean?
How does this relate to what we have been talking about?
What do we already know about this?
Can you give me an example?
Are you saying ... or ... ?
Can you rephrase that, please?
2. Questioning assumptions
Questioning their assumptions makes students think about the beliefs behind their arguments. This really gets them talking.
What are you assuming is true?
What else could we assume?
What could we assume instead?
You seem to be assuming ... is true ?
How did you learn those assumptions?
How did you choose those assumptions?
Please explain why/how ... ?
How can you prove or disprove that assumption?
Do you agree or disagree with ... ?
3. Questioning reasons and evidence
When they give a reason for their arguments, dig into that reasoning rather than assuming it is true.
Why is that happening?
How do you know this?
Show me ... ?
Can you give me an example of that?
What do you think causes ... ?
What is the nature of this?
Are these reasons good enough?
Would it stand up in court?
How can I be sure of what you are saying?
Why is ... happening?
Why? (keep asking it -- you'll never get past a few times)
What evidence is there to support what you are saying?
On what authority are you basing your argument?
4. Questioning viewpoints and perspectives
Most arguments are given from a particular position. So question the position. Show that there are other, equally valid, viewpoints.
Another way of looking at this is ..., does this seem reasonable?
What alternative ways of looking at this are there?
Why it is ... necessary?
Who benefits from this?
What is the difference between... and...?
Why is it better than ...?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of...?
How are ... and ... similar?
What would ... say about it?
What if you compared ... and ... ?
How could you look another way at this?
5. Question implications and consequences
The argument that they give may have logical implications that can be forecast. Do these make sense? Are they desirable?
Then what would happen?
What are the consequences of that assumption?
How could ... be used to ... ?
What are the implications of ... ?
How does ... affect ... ?
How does ... fit with what we learned before?
Why is ... important?
What is the best ... ? Why?
6. Questions about the question
And you can also get reflective about the whole thing, turning the question in on itself. Reflect their arguments back to them.
What was the point of asking that question?
Why do you think I asked this question?
Am I making sense? Why not?
What else might I ask?
What does that mean?
Educator! Would you like to readily generate lesson plans that are effective and respectful of different learning styles?
I thought so.
Questions are a powerful way to give structure to the learning experiences that you give your students, especially when you use the same questions that are uppermost in your STUDENTS minds. So, what questions do students have about what they are learning? You may well have heard students ask “Why are we learning this?”, or in other ways question and challenge what is being taught. So that’s the first question to answer. WHY. The others are WHAT, HOW and WHAT IF.
In the 1970’s, Bernice Mcarthy produced a comprehensively effective and respectful lesson planning strategy called 4MAT.
Let me ask you, as if I were your mentor, the four 4MAT questions, so that you can more quickly write a lesson plan that’s going to include all your students in an active learning session
Why are they learning this?
What are they learning?
How will they learn / use this?
What if they want to use this in real life, outside the school environment?
”The 4MAT lesson plan is process of delivering information based on a shared experience. It has four parts each with an exercise for the student’s right-brain and left-brain (in that order). This kind of lesson plan engages students in interactive activities. The students focus more on their learning process than the lesson content - because it is not just what you do do, it’s the way that you do it that’s important for their learning.”, from the 4MAT website.Another way of describing 4MAT
The 4-MAT process has plenty of activities. An initial “attention grabber” that teaches a lesson and promotes interactive learning, and a core component where they can practice the learned concepts in another activity. Finally, the lesson wraps up with something to take home so that the learning can be integrated with the students’ real world.
Ask questions, without knowing the answers
Mr. Tell has not retired yet, but is close to it. The teacher is relying on (and still enjoying) his Guru Role.
His body language says that he's in charge of the room. You can hear him telling the students stuff from the teacher’s book, and from his university education.
He is telling stories from his personal experience connected to the stuff in the teacher's book. The teacher’s deep-rooted attitudes and opinons are apparent even when they are not politically correct, nor shared by the students.
You get a sense that this teacher has treated his students like this for a long time. Certainly he has all this lesson, probably all last term and indeed it seems so natural to him that it’s likely to have been going on for many years.
You get the impression that this teacher knows what was right, and he knows that he is right.
However, the students are doing whatever they can to stop the teacher from telling them what's right all the time.
You notice that the students attitude is less than productive, they are disrespectful and their behaviour is occasionally disruptive. The teacher deals with these disruptions through an authoritarian approach, which includes threats and punishments.
"Change is inevitable, especially in an educational environment", Martin Richards
Some of the reasons why a coaching approach to education is necessary:
Ask, don't tell your Students
As the traditional role of Teacher / Instructor expands to include include that of Mentor / Coach / Facilitator, educators need a greater degree of flexibility and skill in navigating the different leadership roles.
Experienced teachers know that when they TELL their students why they should do something, what to do, how to do it... they are decreasing the learning; and when they ASK students why they should do something, what they think they should do, how they think they should do it, they are increasing the learning.
Hersey-Blanchard’s model of Situational Leadership is a useful model for illustrating the range of leadership roles that an educator chooses from. Indeed these are the same roles that are being taught and trained in the World of Business and Industry. So, why not in Education?It takes self-control and confidence in one's leadership to shift focus from telling to asking.
It is the quality of the questions that influences the process of putting the responsibility for learning where it belongs - with the student.
In the long-run, asking questions, is worth it because students become self-motivated learners.
'Asking Questions' is where Coaching and Teaching meet up, collide, and merge.
When to Add the Sugar
How do you know it's time to add more sugar to the lesson?
One of the tools I like to use - probably because I have spent a lot of hours playing a certain computer game - is to imagine an ”energy meter” just above the students' heads. It shows how much energy they have left. All I have to do is look and listen:
Listen. Listen to the 'chatter', when it reaches a certain level, you know it's time to pull a furry rabbit out of the hat.
Look. Watch the students' body language. When it drops above or below a certain level, or certain students start to fidget, take that as a signal to change gear.
Reflect. Probably the most important part of your working day. When a lesson has ”crashed and burned” reflect on when it was that you lost contact with the students. Then plan a humorous moment at the start of the next lesson, or if possible in between the lessons in cases where you have ongoing e-mail contact with the students. A well-placed spoonfull of sugar can set them up for a great next lesson.
The English teacher was enacting a story, from a script held in his hands, even before the students arrived. He seemed to be rehearsing for a play. As the students came into the room they were each given their own piece of paper with three words written on it.
Some of the words were the classic mistakes
your / you're,
there / their.
Other homonyms included
aloud / allowed,
ate / eight,
bare / bear
The language point being offered was that some words sound almost the same when spoken aloud, and the only way to know which word is being used is to listen to the context of what is being said.
The teacher’s story ended and he started again from the beginning, including some gestures which suggested that the students who were present were to look at their pieces of paper. Some students made the connection, and their understanding of what to do (match the written words with the spoken words) spread around the class.
As the last students arrived, the teacher embarked on a third rendition of the story, with more deliberateness and small pauses after the selected words whilst the teacher made eye contact with the students who thought he had just said ‘their’ word.
At this point the teacher moved into the next section of his lesson and used the homonyms from the story more directly.
Apart from the clever use of story-telling, what else do you notice is going on in that classroom?
Playing the Fool, deliberately engineered interruptions
"I play the Fool in order to bring humour to my classroom. It’s a role that I deliberately take on, like a coat or a cape. I think most of my students know that, even though I enjoy playing the role of Fool, I do it mostly for them.” - Martin Richards
One of my University professors, Alan White, was an expert at keeping our attention at the highest level, by using interruptions. It was necessary since there were 200 students packed into an airless lecture theatre, and the lectures went on for two hours starting at 9 am.
Initially his interruptions seemed to be natural ones.
These interruptions happened so often that we began to expect them. His lectures were interrupted by one of an increasing variety of interruptions, to which we gladly looked forward.
The timing changed from being sometime near the middle of the lecture, to being closer to the end. Indeed some lectures lacked an interruption, which was in itself an interruption!
Our respect for the professor grew as we understood that he was deliberately engineering interruptions for our benefit. We anticipated them, talked about them during the coffee breaks and showed our appreciation of his ever-increasing creativity in providing for our needs, by turning up on time for his lectures.
Towards the end of the year, the interruptions had developed to such a level that we knew that this last lecture was going to include an ‘epic interrupt’. (Continues in the book)
Read about it, and other stories at http://www.martinrichards.eu/books.html
Thanks for sharing this.
Knowing When to Add the Sugar
Focus on the connection between you and your students, reveal the structure behind your carefully designed lessons, so that adventure of learning is shared.
Learning comes quicker when students are fully engaged in the learning process, and not simply passive recipients of albeit necessary and useful information.The clear link between humour and Learning Styles and the modern understanding of how the human brain learns suggests that learning activities that include a combination of different kinds of thinking are most effective. According to neuroscientists, humour is the result of making connections between logical and intuitive thinking.
You will soon observe the following effects of using Humour:
What skill is most needed when coaching teenagers?
This clip can be used for staff meetings or to support presentations about the benefits of coaching.
Moving from Bracing Yourself Against What You Expect, to Embracing What’s Actually There
I used to teach at a school.
I'm smart, I learn fast. By the third week of the first term, I knew which classes were going to be easiest to teach, and which ones were going to be the hardest. I knew for each class which students were funny, which students were easy to reach, and which were going to give me a hard time. I was especially clear about which students were going to give me a hard time.
At the back of my mind a voice was beginning to make certain statements:
Every day, as certain classes started, so did the voice. It told me what to expect of that class, which students were going to challenge my authority, to trip me up and make my lessons into a shambles. And guess what. The voice was right. Everything it predicted happened; and more.
At the start of some lessons I was mentally fired up, ready to defend myself, to return fire, to give back what I was receiving and do so to such a degree that I would win. Because I was the teacher, and I was in charge.Luckily, I had studied some Transactional Analysis at University and the deeper truth of the situation began to make itself known to me.
In my book "A Coaching Approach to Education" I will tell you the cure for the negative words that I was hearing, the words that were draining my energy and killing my relationship with my students.
The Teacher who uses paperclips to clear up her language
Near the end of the lesson the teacher called the class to attention to tell them how she felt about the communication between herself.
“I have something to say to you all. I have something to ask you all"
The class hushed.
“Looking back on this lesson, and the past few week’s lessons, I feel that we can improve the learning environment, by improving the way we communicate.”
The students exchanged looks.
“Communication is a shared responsibility. You share 49%, and I have the other 51% of the responsibility. So I want to start making some changes with what I say to you. Will you help me with that?”
There was general agreement to help.
“During the next week’s lessons I ask that you give me an indication when I say something that is not positive, or not supportive. Can you do that?”
A discussion ensued around the exact meaning of ‘not positive’ and ‘not supportive’. The teacher rounded off the discussion by sharing her list of ‘horrid little words and phrases’ that she wanted to remove from her communication.
The class also agreed to a specific sign that would be an indication to the teacher if she used any of the ‘horrid little words’ that she had mentioned.
During the next week’s lessons the teacher took with her a box of paper clips and a dish. Each time the students indicated that she had said a ‘horrid little word’ she took a paper clip out of the box and put it in the dish. At the end of the lesson she counted the number of paper clips and wrote that in her journal. Her aim was to have no paper clips in the dish by the end of the fifth lesson.
For the first of the five lessons she took the students’ indications at face value, and without challenging the students picked up a paper clip and put it in the dish.
During the second and third lessons she paused after each student’s sign and asked with honest curiosity “What could I say instead?”. Most often she then used the words or phrase that the student suggested.
After the fourth lesson, the number of paper clips had reduced to almost none.
By the fifth lesson, the teacher began to give feedback to certain students, “Would you like me to give YOU a sign when YOU use language about YOURSELF that is not positive, or not supportive?”.
Well done - or?
Like other teachers you may well have favourite and often over-used ‘Reward Phrases’, things you say when your students exhibit desirable behaviour.
Do you use phrases like “Well done”, “Good”, “Nice work”, or “Correct”?
I invite you to be more adventurous and write down what YOU would like someone to say about YOUR best work.
You could involve your teacher colleagues and get even more phrases, so that each of you has a broader and more exciting vocabulary to choose from. Ask your colleagues “What are your favourite Reward Phrases? Do you use just a few, are you wearing them out, and do you need some more? Can we take the time now to pick out some new ones to use in the coming weeks?”
CAtE book, available on Amazon (click the picture)
Coaching Tools, available for download (click the picture)
Teacher, facilitator and coach; Martin Richards trains educators to use a coaching approach all the work they do.