Time and time again, teachers will find themselves obligated to lecture their students on the importance of studying. This is usually met with half-hearted nods of agreement. The fact is, most students would agree that studying is vital to good grades. However, teachers are also finding that either students are not studying at all, or they are studying but performing poorly on assignments or exams. In the former case, there is obviously a wide range of options available for students who have a hard time studying. In the latter case, though, what is it that is missing? Why are students reporting to have studied but still struggling?
Time and time again, research has proven how detrimental a purely academic-based approach to a classroom can be. Such a narrow focus on the many aspects of a child’s life can result in not properly addressing or recognizing issues that can appear in the other aspects of his or her life. In order to have well-rounded students a classroom, students should be given well-rounded curriculum, not only through teachers, but through their communities and families.
Teachers are aware right from the very beginning of their careers how important it is to encourage a student to reach their full potential. Students are told many times that they can achieve anything they put their mind to. This trend, however, seems to disappear as students grow older and enter high school and college. But an attitude of being able to do anything with hard work and persistence is still crucial to success.
This concept has been termed Growth Mindset, a means of encouraging students to continually learn more, grow, and keep trying harder. Students who internalize this skill and who firmly believe that it is true have an easier time learning new concepts and subjects, while those who believe that their abilities are fixed and unable to change have a difficult time and generally have lower standards of achievement.
A TED Talk by Eduardo Briceño explains this idea and discussed research on this subject, saying that, “Results showed that the students with the growth mindset--those who thought they could change their own intelligence--increased their grades over time, while those with a fixed mindset did not...
While not everyone might realize, most everyone has goals, whether they are consciously thought about or unconsciously decided. Goals can range from simple, such as getting a certain amount of sleep at night; or goals can be more complex and require more time, such as winning a prestigious award or succeeding in a competition Goal-setting is oftentimes not considered when counseling students on how to achieve higher grades, yet this is a necessary skill that has been proven to increase a student’s GPA and average test scores. When a goal is set, it becomes a target for the student and something to be worked for. When a goal is consciously formed and written down, it becomes more concrete and is more likely to be achieved.
Goal-setting is oftentimes taught in a five-step pattern, with descriptions that use the acronym SMART. Goals that are widely considered good have the following characteristics:
Some students might struggle with one aspect of these attributes than others, yet consistent practice with setting and achieving goals following this pattern has been seen to improve
While not everyone would know an exact definition of executive functioning skills, most would right away recognize someone who lacked these skills. They can be in every circle of relationships, from family to peers, and when a person doesn't have developed executive functioning skills, they stick out.
Simply put, “executive functioning skills” is a wide term for self-management. These skills consist of self-regulation and mental control. They assist in goal-setting and goal-reaching an are incredibly useful in a school setting and work setting. Many have these skills to a moderate degree, yet not everyone has taken the necessary steps to hone and train these skills in a way that will significantly increase their learning potential and capacity for success.
The following is a list of basic executive functioning skills:
It is a well-known and often-experienced pattern: as students become more successful they receive more praise, but they also receive more responsibility and higher expectations. While not necessarily a bad thing in itself, these newly-added expectations can become somewhat overwhelming and unachievable to students who were previously enjoying success. In the business world, this is oftentimes called the "Ceiling of Complexity."
Coined by entrepreneur Dan Sullivan, the "Ceiling of Complexity" is the idea that every project you complete creates has a snowball effect of creating residual responsibilities and expectations. This residual may be small, but it’s always there. Over time, this residual effect builds up and adds complexity to our everyday lives. Eventually it forms a ceiling, which limits further progress until you do something to break through the ceiling and reach a new state of simplicity.
Students are very likely to experience this at an academic level. Successful students may find that their new responsibilities and expectations weigh them down to a point that they become unhappy with their success. They start to focus more on the pressing demands and lose sight of the larger picture, which causes more frustration and discontent. Their progress is halted, and they are unable to
The lives of most American students leave little room for things deemed unimportant. Hectic, fast-paced, and competitive, the American workplace lifestyle has obviously trickled down into the American public education system. A student will spend an average of 35 hours a week in school, and that, combined, with homework and other extracurricular activities such as sports or clubs, makes an education rather similar to a full-time job, minus the paycheck at the end of the month (Grime).
It is little wonder, then, why so many students struggle academically to keep up with the demands on their time and attention. As the students grow, their ways of processing things psychologically and emotionally are continually changing, creating an even more hectic school experience for them. This can, and oftentimes does, lead to frustration for students as well as lower grades and performance in school.
However, studies have proven time and again that a way to mitigate these frustrations is through organizational-based learning. Routines and planning can help alleviate a child’s stress when it comes to school courses and homework. Effective time management, planning, and regular decluttering of backpacks, locker, binders, or any other place where school work might be kept can all be effective steps to helping students achieve higher grades (Debbie).
Executive skills classes and trainings are also a means of helping and assisting students in acquiring
Old school? Formative assessment on paper. Although that can be easy to have your kids do a quiz on paper, who wants to lug a bunch of paper quizzes and grade them all? I'm all for assessing students, not for grading hundreds of answers after school! Let's look at how to work smarter, not harder, when giving formative assessments to your students!
Ditch grading, get immediate results and see who understands which standards you are teaching with one of these three formative Assessment tools: Nearpod, Quizlet and Plickers.
Lessons on Brain Based Learning
The concept of brain-based learning might seem to some an paradox. Certainly teachers do their utmost best to teach and mold a child’s brain in the best way possible. In order for a student to learn, brains must be engaged and process the information presented. However, brain-based learning takes a different approach.
In general retrospect, methods of Western education have not changed for several decades, arguably longer. While new theories and practices occasionally appear every few years that might change a few aspects, a lecture-based classroom setting environment has been the status quo for several hundred years. Brain-based learning argues that this can be changed if teachers were to instruct based on the understanding of the science of learning itself, rather than relying on traditional methods. Children learn differently during the various stages of their life, and if teachers were to fully grasp and take advantage of this, learning could accelerate immensely.
The Glossary of Education Reform states:
“A great deal of the scientific research and academic dialogue related to brain-based learning has been focused on neuroplasticity—the concept that neural connections in the brain change, remap, and reorganize themselves when people learn new concepts, have new experiences, or practice certain skills over time.”
Learning new concepts essentially changes the way a child might think or how he or she might view other subjects.
One of the most famous quotes in regards to education comes from German-born theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, when he said: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Lynn is a full time teacher, founder and chief academic officer at academic success. Learn more about Lynn here in her Linked In Profile