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6 administrators share strategies to gain — and maintain — student engagement

Education Dive – Roger Riddell

“Many a seasoned educator can tell you that getting students’ attention is easier said than done, and maintaining that engagement can sometimes prove even more difficult. To gain insight on what works best, we asked six current and former school and district leaders to share their favorite tactics and strategies, and this is what they had to say.”(more)

Common sense a prerequisite for brilliance

News Herald – Juliann Talkington

Juliann

Do high standardized test scores assure success?

Many highly-accomplished people had far from perfect scores on the SAT test. Some struggled to get through college and others dropped out. With these results, there must be more to success than academic brilliance.

Granted, technological advances have made academic knowledge, especially in math and the sciences, more important. However, common sense is just as vital as it was fifty years ago. Sadly, many parents have become so focused on academic knowledge and fame that common sense has fallen by the wayside.

Common sense is something most of us understand intuitively, but is difficult to define. It is a combination of wisdom and self-discipline.

According to Wordnik wisdom is, “The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” Wisdom is not something that can be found in a textbook, taught in a classroom, or downloaded from the Internet. It is not tested through standardized tests like the SAT, MCAT, or GRE. Instead it is something that comes with exposure and experience.

The same dictionary defines self-discipline as, “Training and control of one’s conduct.” Self-discipline is generally modeled and taught at home through structure, responsibility, consequences, and praise.

Before the age of helicopter parents, most kids developed common sense as part of everyday life. Children were given considerable responsibility. Parents set expectations and there were consequences for poor choices. Only the winners received trophies. Through the school of hard knocks kids gradually learned how to present ideas, communicate with others, and alert people of delays. They came to understand the importance of punctuality and how to diplomatically address problems.

Now many parents are so worried about the “perfect” D1 sports program, landing a lead movie role, etc. that they do too much of their kids. It is often better to set general extra-curricular involvement requirements and establish minimum effort expectations rather than micromanage.

Finally, it is important for children to take responsibility for their actions. If a child is going to be late, he/she should notify the adult in charge. When a child damages property, he/she needs to earn money for the repair. And when a child performs poorly on a test, he/she needs to get a poor grade rather than have his/her parent negotiate with the principal.

Stepping out of the micromanagement role is challenging. However, it is easier once we realize our children need an environment that fosters common sense to become truly brilliant.

How A Stereotype Threat Intervention Can Help Students in STEM Fields

KQED News Mind/Shift – Esther Landhuis

“The results indicate that directly discussing the phenomena of stereotype threat appears to help students of ethnic groups underrepresented in science as well, if not better, than traditional approaches that bolster students without specifically talking about stereotypes. Past research shows minority students can be helped by being prompted to think about things they care about like sports, friends, or religion. It’s called affirmation training. Asking students to recall these values nurtures a broader sense of self and makes individual threats, such as a math test, seem less daunting, says Stanford psychologist Greg Walton. Indeed, a study by Walton and colleagues showed that so-called affirmation training can improve women’s attitudes about school and raise their science GPAs.”(more)

3 critical things to know about boosting student engagement

E-School News – Laura Ascione

“Engaging high school students in learning and breaking away from the typical boredom that seems to plague so many students is a challenge–one that could be addressed differently depending on a student’s dominant mode of engagement. To figure out the best ways to engage different groups of students, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute worked with a research team headed by Crux Research president and founder John Geraci. The result is What Teens Want From Their Schools: A National Survey of High School Student Engagement. The research team surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,000 students in grades 10-12 to gather information for the report.”(more)

Can a simple classroom redesign inspire student achievement?

E-School News – Dr. Juli Marshall

“Imagine a 5th grade classroom in the middle of a lesson. What do you see: charts, letters, and drawings on the wall? A teacher writing notes on a large chalk or white board at the front of the room? Rows of desks and chairs, which face a single direction? Maybe you imagined small bookshelves, an American flag, or other supplies. It’s likely we formed the same, all too familiar image in our mind. This has been the traditional classroom for decades. Any generation could walk into a room and immediately identify it as a classroom. At South Carolina’s Saluda Trail Middle School, my room has evolved from this stagnant design to one of innovation. It’s flexible. It’s colorful. It’s engaging.”(more)

What Teens Want From Their Schools

Education Next – Amber M. Northern and Michael J. Petrilli

“Boredom may exist in elementary or middle school, but it is endemic to high school. Indeed, it’s practically a rite of adolescent passage to profess one’s perennial state of ennui—as if no one or nothing is cool enough to sustain the interest of a sixteen-year-old. What educators need to take seriously is the distinction between typical teenage whining and signs that students are actually disengaging from their formal education. Such disengagement is a portent of trouble, and not just because student engagement is closely linked to academic achievement. [i] Among high school students who consider dropping out, half cite lack of engagement with the school as a primary reason, and 42 percent report that they don’t see value in the schoolwork they are asked to do.”(more)