(203) 453-5067 Laura@HandleEducation.com

Facing Potential Combat? De-Fuse it with Diffusers!

  The best selling author Max Lucado stated, “Conflict is inevitable. Combat is optional.”  This is true in all realms, whether personal or professional. And nowhere is it more obvious than when dealing with adolescents and teenagers. Their major objective at home and at school appears to be to challenge authority.  However, adults can choose a response to these provocations that can avoid combat.  One expert in conflict resolution provides the following advice: “Remembering that we have the option to avoid combat, that we are in control, should strengthen us to be more assertive when confronted with conflict. Being aggressive and combative in conflict (or using complete avoidance tactics) is only hiding our intention to ‘win’ the battle and so force the other party to lose.” In a classroom, where the adult is certainly outnumbered by at least 20 to 1, the temptation for the teacher can be to return a sarcastic or flippant remark in kind. And that would be a mistake! Staying calm and objective in the face of a potentially contentious interaction can de-fuse the situation and maintain a warm classroom climate that is conducive to instruction. Consider the following scenario: A high school English teacher assigns the students several Shakespearean sonnets to read and explain. One student yells out, “I hate Shakespeare. This is so boring!” Instead of engaging in combat by replying negatively. (“Just shut up and do it.”) and allowing the disruptive student to play to his audience, the teacher can calmly use a diffuser. Here are a few alternatives: “Wait Wait, there’s more!” “Nevertheless, we will continue.” “I hear you.” “Oh, well!” According to Rick Dahlgren,… Read More »

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 »

Student Engagement: Tips for any Level

  Student engagement refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education. It is the essential ingredient for learning to occur. Student engagement is the province of every classroom from pre-kindergarten through graduate school. Obviously, the first step a teacher must take to assure that learning occurs is to provide a safe, orderly environment. In working with educators at levels from pre-school through college, I offer three essential components of classroom management they must develop before they begin to think about presenting content instruction: Caring, Rules, Practice Caring: A truism in education states,“Students don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care.” So HOW do students know a teacher cares? A first step is learning each student’s name as soon as possible, optimally at the first meeting. Taking the time and effort to identify each student yields benefits for the future. Teachers can utilize seating charts and a variety of mnemonic strategies to help them accomplish name recognition as soon as possible. Students are people, too!  Engage the students in brief but meaningful written or oral discussions about their interests and activities. These types of interactions are known as non-contingent. This means that the students need not perform a particular task or activity to receive attention from the teacher. These interactions can occur before or after class, in hallways, at lunch, at recess, etc.  Some examples: What’s your favorite pastime? What was the best thing you did over the… 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 »

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.