(203) 453-5067 Laura@HandleEducation.com

Try Some PIE!

Failing to plan is planning to fail.  How many times do well-intended goals fail? How many  keep their New Year’s resolutions beyond the first week or the first month? How often do study hours evaporate? How many reports are late? How many diets fail? Countless examples demonstrate that despite the best of intentions, planning alone provides insufficient incentive to achieve a goal. Successful planning involves three stages. Following these steps can help someone attain almost any goal:PIE.  Look below for a practical implementation for a study plan. PLAN: Before new students enroll in my test preparation program I send out questionnaire. I ask them to complete and submit it prior to their first session. The questions on it include the student’s desired score on the exam (ACT or SAT). The students usually have an easy answer to this.  But then the questions require more thinking, as I ask HOW they will achieve their goals. HOw much time will they devote to their task? When will they fit it into their schedule? Once they respond, they move to the next step. I ask them to IMAGINE: Once they have considered their tentative study methods and time, they must think about the obstacles that they may face. Obstacles ALWAYS exist, so envisioning them is  crucial step to learning how to overcome them. According to psychologist Gabriele Oettingen, author of Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside The New Science Of Motivation, facing obstacles is important. For example, if a student cites social media as a distraction, he can face the challenge by shutting off a smartphone, or changing the setting to “Do not Disturb” during scheduled study… Read More »

The “Secret” of Intrinsic Motivation

What constitutes a rewarding life?  What spurs some people to pursue their interests actively, while others remain passive observers?  Motivation is a crucial factor for achievement in personal and professional pursuits.  Yet, working for some extrinsic reward, whether tangible like money, or intangible, like fame, may not provide a deep sense of fulfillment even after one does achieve the pinnacle of “success.” One need only glance at headlines to realize the hollow success of many cases of celebrity. On the other hand, working at something for the sheer enjoyment is the hallmark of intrinsic motivation:  Intrinsic motivation is defined as performing an action or behavior because you enjoy the activity itself . .  . the inspiration for acting on intrinsic motivation can be found in the action itself. Shouldn’t the goal of education be much more than the recitation of facts for content areas? Wouldn’t helping students find their passion provide them with a pathway to a fulfilling life? To quote Maya Angelou: “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them . . .” The lesson here is that learning for its own sake can be enormously rewarding. It  can perpetuate a sustained desire to become proficient in an an academic subject, a skill, or a talent.  Couldn’t the development of the intrinsic motivation to learn help to decrease the drop-out rate in some of our nation’s communities?  Is it well worth attempting, as the world becomes increasingly dependent on knowledge workers? While research studies point to the importance of intrinsic motivation, few actually provide the “how to.”  Teachers can… Read More »

Language and the Mind/Body Connection

In a past blog, I discussed how use of language affects morality. But the power of language expands far beyond moral issues.  In a lecture series in Great Courses,  Dr. Peter Vishton elaborates on the intricate connections between language and mind/body. He provides research-based proof that an individual’s thoughts manifest themselves even on a person’s physiology. Dr. Vishton states, “Language is a central feature of how our brain makes sense of the world around us . . . so the language we use can greatly affect our thinking.”  He cites research by Dr. Vanessa Patrick regarding the effects of self-talk and motivation. Her research paper, “I Don’t versus I Can’t: When Empowered Refusal Motivates Goal-Directed Behavior,” demonstrated that when a group of dieters were offered a piece of chocolate cake, those who replied, “I don’t eat chocolate cake,” were much more successful at resisting temptation than those who responded, “I can’t eat chocolate cake.” She maintains that the word “don’t” indicates intrinsic motivation, so dieters who had that self-talk were making a choice and, thus, felt empowered. Yet “can’t” indicates asking permission, which is related to extrinsic motivation.Thus, the concept of Think Yourself Thin may appear to have some basis in reality.  Furthermore, she contends that this principle extends beyond dieting. If someone wants to eliminate a bad habit, using self-talk with don’t versus can’t appears to be a more effective strategy. Furthermore, Dr. Vishton discusses another research study that indicated that the language centers of the brain influence calorie expenditure. He cites the work of Dr. Crum of Stanford and Dr. Langer of Harvard, who enlisted hotel housekeepers to test their hypothesis about changing their mindsets regarding how they viewed their work.  The… Read More »

Make Mistakes and Learn!

  Alexander Pope wrote, “To err is human . . . ” Making mistakes is inherently human, so people can take the opportunity to grow and learn from their errors. In her book, Being Wrong, Kathryn Schulz explains. “Far from being a sign of intellectual inferiority, the capacity to err is crucial to human cognition.  Far from being a moral flaw. it is inextricable from some of our most human and honorable qualities: empathy, optimism, imagination, conviction, and courage . . . wrongness is a vital part of how we learn and change.” When people share their mistakes, they can adjust their behavior and learn.  In an Edutopia article, Dr. Richard Curwin addresses the positive aspect of educators sharing mistakes: “When a teacher forms strong relationships with another teacher or two, they share their problems freely, ask for and give advice, and learn from each other.  . . . An important side effect of discussing mistakes might be to change the perception of mistakes, not only for teachers, but for students as well. When teachers learn from their mistakes, they might be more willing to let students learn from theirs.” Teachers can promote a positive learning environment by demonstrating that mistakes are an integral part of the learning process. Admitting mistakes provides the opportunity to practice an open mind-set.  In order to engender positive thinking, teachers can embrace the chances for “teachable moments” in a variety of ways.  First of all, they can share their own mistakes, thus demonstrating that the classroom is a safe environment for learning. They can explain what mistakes students made and allow them to correct and re-do their work.… Read More »

The Prodigy Myth

  Stories abound of individuals born with innate abilities whose talent astounds most mortal beings.  These include figures from a wide range of fields from the arts to natural sciences, mathematics, and sports: Michelangelo, DaVinci, Mozart, The Beatles, and Tiger Woods are just a very few examples.  Mozart starting performing classical music at the age of five. Ted Williams, the Boston Red Sox left fielder was nicknamed “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived.” However, what most people fail to realize is that these “prodigies” displayed certain traits that may have caused them to appear innately blessed and effortlessly gifted. They had the opportunity to excel through persistent and extraordinary effort. Of course, few people would diminish Mozart’s musical abilities. However, they  should take into account that his family situation certainly contributed to his musical talent. According to Mozart.com, “Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was tremendously lucky to have an experienced musician as a father with Leopold Mozart. Leopold immediately recognised the potential in Wolfgang. He dedicated his life to supporting his son’s talent.” The young Mozart had the interest, and his father oversaw many hours of deliberate practice. Centuries later, the quartet known as The Beatles acknowledged that their success came from sustained practice: “In Hamburg, we had to play for eight hours.” Furthermore, how many fans were aware that Michael Jordan, one of the most famous NBA players, did not make his high school basketball team? He was determined to succeed, so he put in many hours of practice to perfect his athletic skill, and the results were extraordinary. The lesson here is that effort is the key to success. Of course, having some talent… Read More »

Fostering Intrinsic Motivation-Allowing Choice

    In a previous blog post, I described the differences between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Research has demonstrated that external rewards are ineffective for long-term positive results whether in the academic realm or the workplace. But internal goals can boost the ability to achieve. As early as fifty years ago, James Coleman,from Johns Hopkins University, found that students’ attitudes regarding the amount of  control they had over their lives directly affected their achievement. Fast forward to the present, and this concept of self determination has not yet been fully integrated into our educational system.  According to a recent article in Educational Leadership, high school dropouts often feel that external forces control their lives: They are “buffeted by fate.”  One important element in fostering a sense of control is CHOICE. Bryan Goodwin cites a meta-analysis form 2012: ” . . . feeling in control of one’s life, combined with academic self-efficacy and goal orientation, accounted for roughly 20% of the variance in university students’ grade point average.”  So, how can teachers help students take control of their learning? They can provide choice in their classrooms. Teachers can empower their students in active learning by allowing them to participate in their education. Rather than engaging in  authoritarian behavior, in which students have no options, authoritative teachers provide opportunities that engender a love of larding.  These choices can range from the  electives they choose to the order in which  students complete assignments to the types and scope of projects they will submit. Even small choices can affect students’ attitudes. Helping students learn that they have control over their lives is one of the most valuable lessons for school and… Read More »

If schools were permitted to have just one training, this is the one!

This training will help to raise test scores for your students, decrease discipline challenges, and improve classroom rapport. You will learn how to meet students where they are and lead them where they need to be, capture attention, and promote deeper learning.