Tag Archives: self-efficacy

Try on a new lens – (TBT Remix)

We perceive only the sensations we are programmed to receive, and our awareness is further restricted by the fact that we recognize only those for which we have mental maps or categories. (Zander, 10 pag.)

The following was posted on the last day of Pre-Planning my first year at Trinity.  While no longer a stranger, I continue to need and learn from  the stories of our children and colleagues.

From August 14, 2012:

I am new to my community – a stranger, if you will.  As a fledgling member of the community, I need and want to hear the stories of the children and my colleagues, the history of the people and the place. One spectacular opportunity afforded me is to hear the same story from multiple perspectives.  I value the luxury of learning and seeing through multiple lenses.

Through which lens do I choose to look at my surroundings?  On what do I choose to focus?  How do I practice seeing bright spots?  How often do I focus on success rather than struggle?  How do I make the practice of bright-spot-seeking a habit?  Do I teach this habit to others?

For our children, school begins tomorrow. What will they want and need from us, their teachers?  How will we offer feedback as they learn and grow?  Is it our habit to highlight their success or their struggle?  When we mark student papers, do we “award credit” or do we “take points off?” Literally, what do we mark?  What is our habit? What are we teaching through our habit?

How do our actions impact the lens through which our learners see themselves? How does our habit impact the way we see our learners? I am learning to make a point to change my lens to see with different clarity.  What does the story say if I change my view? What do we learn as we try on a new lens?

The frames our minds create define – and confine – what we perceive to be possible.  (Zander, 14 pag.)

Draw a different frame around the same set of circumstances and new pathways come into view. (Zander, 1 pag.)

How do our actions impact the lens through which our learners see themselves? How does our habit impact the way we see our learners? I am learning to make a point to change my lens to see with different clarity.

What does the story say if I change my view? What do we learn as we try on a new lens?


[This post was originally cross published as Try on a new lens – edu180atl: jill gough 8.14.12 and “edu180atl: jill gough 8.14.12“]

Zander, Rosamund Stone, and Benjamin Zander. The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life. Camberwell, Vic.: Penguin, 2002. Print.

Never Underestimate A Motivated Learner ~ You Gotta Have Faith (TBT Remix)

Who has faith in you?  In whom do you demonstrate faith?

On November 20, 2011, AS announced that she wanted to learn to knit. She is seven. I’m embarrassed to say that I thought:

Is she really going to learn to knit? I’ve tried to teach my adult friends and have about a 50% success rate. I am busy; I have a list of things that need to be accomplished today.

But, she was determined to knit, so she sat in my lap while I coached her through 4 rows of 10 stitches – about a 20 minute exercise.  You can see the results of that one “lesson”  in the video below and on my Posterous mother-daugher-based-learning blog post.

On Dec. 20, 2011, her blue scarf was approximate 3.5 feet long, and she started a new purple scarf.

What if I had put my list of “desired outcomes”
ahead of her interests and determination to learn?

What if I told her that she was not ready?

What if I indicated that she did not have
enough maturity, experience, prerequisite skills?

How often do I become focused on “getting through the list of learning targets in the curriculum” without stopping to listen to their interests and questions?

Meet Thomas Suarez – an iPhone app developer and a 6th grader:

Meet Birke Baehr – an 11-year-old concerned with industrialized food systems and the alternatives:

What do our learners care about?  What do they want to learn, study, think deeply about, and investigate?  How can we use our curriculum to serve and support their learning and interests? We regularly check-in with our learners by reading and commenting on their blogs.  Here are a few quotes from our Synergy 8 learners about their interests and concerns:

One thing that each member and I realized after we were talked to about poor quality housing and affordable housing, was that there are many children that do not have a safe place to call “home.”  ~ TY

Did you know that from 1980 to now obesity rates have doubled among adults and tripled among adolescents (USA.gov, Facts n. pag.)? Also, did you know in 2010 according to the CDC 29.6% of people in Georgia were obese (USA.gov, Overweight n. pag.)? Before starting this project, I knew that obesity was a problem and I was very passionate about this issue. Although, I had no idea that obesity affected that many people, especially in Georgia. ~ SE

Using this data, we discovered that most people get less sleep than they should. Lack of sleep can affect your mood, attention span, and ability to retain knowledge. Most teens think that they can do their homework and mess around until 12 am and then go to sleep.~ RV

I am a person that doesn’t like to work in groups in fear that people won’t do their work and I will have to make up for the work that hasn’t been done. Being in this Synergy class and working in groups has helped me to trust other people to do their work.~ HD

What are the active steps we take to help our learners find tangible evidence of success and learning?  How does our feedback indicate that we have faith in their ability to learn, to work collaboratively, to problem find and problem solve?  How do we actively demonstrate faith (and trust) in our learners’ quest develop thinking and understanding? (And, what does it convey if we won’t let them try because we are afraid that they are too young, too immature, too inexperienced, or that they are just “not ready” because they haven’t mastered the prerequisites?

Just meet the amazing speakers at TedxKids@BC from September 17, 2011 and then think about these questions again.

Who has faith in you?  In whom do you demonstrate faith?

We gotta have faith.


Never Underestimate a Motivated Learner – You Gotta Have Faith was originally published on December 29, 2011

Being Slow…Mindset…2nd Chances…Learning (TBT Remix)

Rule Three from The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle is SLOW IT DOWN.

“Why does slowing down work so well? The myelin model offers two reasons.  First, going slow allows you to attend more closely to errors, creating a higher degree of precision with each firing – and when it comes to growing myelin, precision is everything.  As football coach Tom Martinez likes to say ‘It’s not how fast you can do it. It’s how slowly you can do it correctly.’ Second, going slow helps the practitioner to develop something even more important: a working perception of the skill’s internal blueprint – the shape and rhythm of the interlocking skill circuits.”  (p. 85)

We still take a lot of heat from our colleagues about 2nd chance tests.  It makes many people, teachers and parents, uncomfortable.

About our version of 2nd chance tests:

  • Our learners take the test; we mark (not grade) each problem as correct or incorrect, and return the paper to the child without a number-no grade yet.
  • Their job is to find, correct, and identify errors.  We ask them to categorize an error as either a “simple mistake” or “needs more study”.
  • We also ask them to complete a table of specifications and determine their proficiency on the assessed essential learnings.
  • After all problems are corrected, students write a reflection about their work.
  • Armed with the experiences of teamwork, feedback, and self-assessment, students are given a 2nd Chance test and are tested on only the problems missed during the first testing experience.
  • The final test grade combines the correct work from the first test with the work from the 2nd Chance test.
  • Yes, it is completely possible to bomb the first test and end up with a 100 in my grade book.

My assumption is that this discomfort comes from how non-traditional – radical – this concept comes across.  Just because it is different does not make it a bad idea, does it?  The discomfort comes from gut-reaction or theory rather than practice.  Shouldn’t you try it?  What do learners say?

Here’s what some of my learners say.

“If you give your best effort the first time around, you will have learned more in the process and the second time around will be less stressful therefore making the hard work the first time more rewarding. I think that the second chance test is a very valuable learning technique. Even after that unit is complete, it shows you where you need to improve before you start building on those concepts. So far this year, I have seen great improvement in my learning from my previous years in math. This year it has all started clicking, and I am excited about the new units to come.”
~CM

“Before we jump into a new chapter, our class usually takes a formative assessment to tell us where we are and what we know before we actually start learning from Mrs. Gough. I take these seriously because I think they really do help. If I can see where I am in the beginning and then where I am in the end, I can see how much I’ve learned and accomplished.”
~ MC

In Mindset, Dr. Carol Dweck writes

“When people believe their basic qualities can be developed, failures may still hurt, but failures don’t define them.   And if abilities can be expanded – if change and growth are possible – then there are still many paths to success.” (p. 39)

More from my learners:

“Taking formative assessments and tests is something that I think is very important. I give my best effort, and work to learn from my mistakes. The second chance test is something that I think helps us actually learn from taking tests and making mistakes, rather than just getting tested on the material. Math has become one of my favorite subjects this year, and I have worked to learn from all my mistakes.
~VB

“I think that first chance tests and formative assessments are amazing because I can first understand my level and see what to work on and then really learn the material on the test to do better on the second chance. I do well in groups (except for the occasional random moments), and I love working in groups instead of taking notes the whole time. By helping others, it also helps me understand what I am doing wrong or just what I am supposed to do.”
~ HA

I feel the same as Daniel Coyle in the epilogue of The Talent Code when he writes

“Mostly though, I feel it in a changed attitude toward failure, which doesn’t feel like a setback or the writing on the wall anymore, but like a path forward.”

One more quote from our learners

“Overall, I feel as though I have done a pretty good job so far, but there is no one who can stop me from really stepping it up to an unbelievable level. The rest of the year I am going to fix any flaws I have, and show everyone what I can do when I REALLY put my mind to something.”
~ LM

In case this has been too broad for you, let’s go deep.  Here is one learner’s story from three perspectives.

From my perspective…

“GW came to me feeling that she is not very good at math and that she hasn’t been encouraged to like math.  She seeks an advocate and coach.  I strive to support GW as she becomes empowered to take control of her learning.  She is learning that it is great to struggle to learn; it is worth it to struggle to learn; and through the struggle she finds success.  Success leads to more confidence and more success.”   

From GW’s perspective…

“When I started out in math I had a really hard time and math was a definite challenge for me and my first test grade didn’t make it any easier. I was “in a hole” as my parents would tell me and I had to dig myself out. I started to go to extra help a lot more often and made solid B’s on my midterm and exam grades. What helped me through this process was the support. Support from not only my family but from Mrs. Gough and the faculty that really encouraged me to do my best.”

 From GW’s parents’ perspective…

“GW quietly got way behind in math first semester.  Partly due to an inner voice telling her she did not do well in math and partly a lack of commitment and time management. GW had given up.  Mrs. Gough communicated to us that GW needed to demonstrate the deep practice method on all homework. With our support and encouragement (not hands on help) GW began to do the deep practice on homework and began to “review and preview” every night. Our emphasis was ‘the process’ not the letter grade.

Her great success is directly attributed to the teacher/student relationship that Jill forged. Through encouragement (emails), support (office hours), an emphasis on deep practice and patience, Jill taught GW to try and try again, make the mistake, work through it, and get to the answer. Through perseverance, determination and resilience GW moved from failure and “not being good at math” to more than just passing. For us the 80 on her final exam was an A+ in effort, team work, student/teacher relationship, and determination.”

There are many take-a-ways for me…

  • If I can see where I am in the beginning and then where I am in the end, I can see how much I’ve learned and accomplished
  •  It’s not how fast you can do it. It’s how slowly you can do it correctly.
  • I have worked to learn from all my mistakes.
  • There are still many paths to success.
  • This year it has all started clicking.
  • I am excited about the new units to come.
  • There is no one who can stop me from really stepping it up to an unbelievable level.
  • Try and try again, make the mistake, work through it, and get to the answer. 

So here’s to being slow, making mistakes, and trying again.  It’s about learning content and skills.  It’s about learning perseverance and determination.  It’s about learning.  Period!

Time is a variable.

Learning is the constant.


Being Slow…Mindset…2nd Chances…Learning was originally posted on February 12, 2011.


Coyle, Daniel. The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born : It’s Grown, Here’s How. New York: Bantam, 2009. 217.  Print.

Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: the New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House, 2006. 39. Print.

Corrections after a stumble

How do we act and react when our learners take a stumble in their learning?  How are we teaching persistence? How do we help learners learn to stay the course? How do we teach pressing on in spite of difficulty or a stumble?

I stumbled.  I was out on a run early one Sunday morning.  I have been practicing and “doing my homework.”  Theoretically, I am training for a 10K.  Realistically, I’m just working on endurance and overcoming “I can’t” thinking.  At approximately 3 miles out, I stumbled.  In the slow motion moment, I thought “Oh, good; I’m gonna catch myself.” In actual time, wham! Here’s a quick peek at the results of my stumble.

OUCH! But, I was very lucky.  I did not break my nose, teeth, wrists, or anything else.  I did skin and bruise my nose, the left side of my face, my right palm, and my left knee.  I did have to call for help to get home. Three weeks later, there is only a little road-rash under my left eye.  The cleanup and healing took time, work, encouragement, and extra care.

I took action to care for my injuries in the form of lots of salve and ibuprofen. Others took action in many ways to help.

I’ve got a warm washcloth, Bandaids, and Neosporin.  How can I help you?

It really doesn’t look that bad. You hardly notice it.

<teasing> Maybe you should consider different shoes. You know, flat shoes rather than the ridiculous ones that you usually wear.

Just give it time; be patient.  I had a similar incident, and with time and care, you will be fine – back to normal. It will get better.  I suggest vitamin E so that you won’t scar.

<again, teasing> Well, that’s what you get for running.

Notice that no one said “well, you just weren’t prepared.” No one said “maybe you should try harder next time.” No one said “you just weren’t ready.” No one said “it’s okay, this is not in your strength set.”

When a learner fails to meet their own expectations – when they stumble – consider actions and reactions. They speak louder than words.

With time, action, and care, we can fix this.

What can I do to help you?

It is really not that bad. There are bright spots in your work and learning. Let’s work together to brighten the areas of concern.

I did not run for about a week.  I was too sore and bruised.  It makes me wonder about test corrections and 2nd chance tests immediately after an academic stumble.

One of my learners said

This can be a challenge for me because sometimes I feel that I give the effort and it just doesn’t reach the results that I wanted.”

In Mindset, Dr. Carol Dweck writes

“When people believe their basic qualities can be developed, failures may still hurt, but failures don’t define them.   And if abilities can be expanded – if change and growth are possible – then there are still many paths to success.” (p. 39)

My path – on the way to a 10K – took a detour. I have to backtrack a little to reach the result I want. Test corrections are part of the salve and ibuprofen to offer care and comfort while expanding abilities and putting learners on another of the many paths to success.

Cleanup and healing takes time, work, encouragement, and extra care.

_________________________________

Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: the New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House, 2006. 39. Print.

LEARNing: Blogging: read, write, think, learn, communicate,…

We want learners to read, write, think, learn communicate, collaborate, reflect, and revise.  We want our learners to receive authentic feedback and have the opportunity to analyze the feedback and revise if needed.

“It is simple! Literacy is about communicating.  It is about reading and writing.  Blogging is about communicating.  It is about reading and writing.” (Warlick, 127 pag.)

We seek lifelong learning as well as opportunities to connect to others.  What if a child needs to write and connect with others to show what they know? What if we could reveal a learners strengths by simply allowing the ability to leverage technology to show work and effort at its best?

“When given the opportunity, kids WILL write.

“When they know what they write is not just for a grade, they write.

“When they know that someone cares to listen and respond, they write.

“When they know they are respected as writers and people believe they have something worthy to share, they write.

“When they know their writing is for a real audience, they write.

“When they know they can write to learnto figure something outto remember,  to connectto persuadeto reflectto questionto shareto thinkto have fun, they write.” (White, n. pag.)

_________________________

Warlick, David. Classroom Blogging: A Teacher’s Guide to Blogs, Wikis, & Other Tools That Are Shaping a New Information Landscape. Raleigh, NC: Landmark Project, 2007. Print.

White, Paula. “When Kids Write Because They Want To….” Web log post. Reflections of the TZSTeacher. EduBlogs, 24 Feb. 2012. Web. 20 May 2012. .

Try on a new lens – edu180atl: jill gough 8.14.12


I am new to my community – a stranger, if you will.  As a fledgling member of the community, I need and want to hear the stories of the children and my colleagues, the history of the people and the place. One spectacular opportunity afforded me is to hear the same story from multiple perspectives.  I value the luxury of learning and seeing through multiple lenses.

Through which lens do I choose to look at my surroundings?  On what do I choose to focus?  How do I practice seeing bright spots?  How often do I focus on success rather than struggle?  How do I make the practice of bright-spot-seeking a habit?  Do I teach this habit to others?

For our children, school begins tomorrow. What will they want and need from us, their teachers?  How will we offer feedback as they learn and grow?  Is it our habit to highlight their success or their struggle?  When we mark student papers, do we “award credit” or do we “take points off?” Literally, what do we mark?  What is our habit? What are we teaching through our habit?

How do our actions impact the lens through which our learners see themselves? How does our habit impact the way we see our learners? I am learning to make a point to change my lens to see with different clarity.  What does the story say if I change my view? What do we learn as we try on a new lens?

Jill Gough serves as Director of Teaching and Learning at Trinity School.  She risks, questions and seeks feedback to improve. You can follow her on Twitter at @jgough.

_________________________

[This post was originally published as “edu180atl: jill gough 8.14.12“]

The Most Important 21st Century Skill #MCHunter

Who are you?
Why are you here?
What do you hope to leave with?

I wonder how my learners would answer these questions on the first day of school.  How would I process this information and engage with my learners so that they feel heard and valued?

Here are my answers when challenged to “dig deeper” than name, school, family, and education:

I am a collaborative learner, confused – in a good way – by my experiences and my questions.  Labeled a “math” teacher, I feel that I am a teacher of children (and adults) and need to know, lead, and learn so much more.  As a mother, I see how much my child can and wants to do.  Have I been limiting my learners because of history and assumptions? … and fears?? Why do I stay in the safety of what I know?  How do I model learning and risk taking?

I am here to learn.  I believe that we underestimate our learners, their ability, interests, and motivation.  It is easy to teach what I deem essential, but how many times have I missed opportunities because I did not ask questions and listen – really listen – to their answers?

I hope to leave with more than I have right now: more relationships, more curiosity, more willingness to experiment and do, and more courage to “do different”.

The Martin Institute for Teaching Excellence and Trinity School contributed to my personal learning growth by providing me an opportunity to participate in a Master Class with John Hunter (follow the conversations on Twitter: #MCHunter).  John Hunter (@worldpeacemovie), and Jamie Baker (@JamieReverb) facilitated the two days of professional development renewal experiences.

How often do I rush to “teach” content – the stuff they need to know?  How many times have I said “I just don’t have time to…” because I’m so focused on trying to cram in one more thing?

John and Jamie spoke of and modeled creating space, empty space…hmm….

What if my learners simply need space and time to process, question, think, share, and learn? Shouldn’t the human-ness of learners be the first focus? If the foundation is a solid relationship between and among learners, how much can be built? How sturdy? How beautiful? How long-lasting?

Spend time to gain time…Think how much more can be accomplished if learners know that it is safe to reveal their needs, concerns, strengths and weaknesses because they are in a supportive learning community focused on growth.

Today’s big take-a-way is the power of building relationships – the MOST IMPORTANT 21st Century skill.

Who are you?
Why are you here?
What do you hope to leave with?