Goals for Great Teachers for the Coming Year

qualitystockphotos-a_studying_female_student_with_approved-1687x2252.jpgMaterial taken from Eric Jensen’s Brighter Brain Bulletin, August 2014

Article entitled: Make it a Habit To Connect Recent Brain Research
with Practical Classroom Strategies; Jensen’s 7 Most Valuable Teaching Goals Ever; (Dream Big, Teach Big, and Watch Results Soar)

 

Eric Jensen, in his most recent newsletter, sets up some goals for all teachers to strive for to make it their, and their students, greatest year ever. Take a look; try one, some, or all!

 

Goal One:

Classroom climate is a top contributor to student success. Set a high goal for engagement in your classroom; Jensen suggests setting your goal to engage every student, every day, for at least 7 minutes.  This can be done in a whole group setting by doing stretching exercises, meditation, games like Simon Says, etc.

[For professional development on engagement; Jensen has prepared a series of professional videos entitled ‘Tools for Engagement’; check out his website for further information.]

 

Goal Two:

Strive to raise your expectations of how well every student will do.  Student expectations are a strong predictor of how kids will actually do.  As their teacher, think high in terms of goals for the kids’ maybe even 2 years of growth!

 

Goal Three:

Make it your goal to get the kids to ‘buy in’ to what you’re teaching.  Jensen quotes neuroscientific research by saying “If the brain’s not buying, the brain’s not changing”.

It’s up to you as the teacher to develop student learners who remember more and stay engaged. Even minutes of irrelevant information can cause the brain to tune out- strive to build relevance for everything you teach.  Jensen suggests ‘curiosity building’ strategies like: …“How many of you would like to learn something really bizarre about...?” Or, “Wow, this is going to be amazing. Here’s how it works...” Or, “My last class only scored a 72 average on this. I looked at your scores and think we can beat that by at least 5. Ready to give it a go?”

 

Goal Four:

Empathy and understanding are keys to every good classroom. Hold off judgment and blame on students; they have little or no control over their home environments, and what they are being (or not being) taught in their homes.

Jensen suggests incorporating empathy, not sympathy or indifference in your classroom discipline.  This does not mean that standards should be lowered for academics or behaviors; it just means to try to put the students first, before policies and rules. Here are some ways he describes to help:

 “Better discipline strategies include: be more engaging in your teaching, listen more than you talk and redirect energy instead of trying to suppress it. When kids get listless and slumped over, use an energizer. When students seem to squirm a lot and are overactive, get them up to stretch and then use a quick energizer. When they’re late for class, welcome them, and later ask them what happened. You may be surprised at how hard they worked to get to class, even if it’s late.”

 

Goal Five:

Use variety in your instruction. Every child comes to your class with different strengths, weaknesses, personality, and character.  Make it a goal this year to add one new consistent source of instruction.  Jensen lists four effective ways to do that:

He first suggests that you switch your social structure (solo, partners, groups, whole class, etc) every 20-40 minutes to make sure kids stay engaged. Content can also be switched up by including things like personal experiences, hard copy tests, on line information, class speakers, etc. Variation in learning activities, such as posters, dioramas, case studies, projects, and student based quizzes will all help students with varied learning styles be able to understand and remember material. Make sure your students transfer what they have learned in class. Not all students do well on paper and pencil tests, especially those copied from the teacher’s manual. There are lots of options to find out if your students know the material you taught them.  Jensen suggests some ideas to help students transfer material:

Transfer ideas: “Students submit potential test Qs on cards, and every student picks a card. They pair up and each student will quiz a partner with a time constraint (e.g. 30” or less), depending on the type of question. Additionally use small group quizzing where students take turns playing the role of team leader, calling on the other students, using the basket of potential Qs as the content. Create Game Show formats where every answer must be completed within a certain time frame.”


Goal Six:

Make it a priority to build relationships with your students.  The more unstable and chaotic their home environment is, the more they will need stability in a relationship with you. Jensen speaks of the ‘3 in 30’ rule; make a goal for yourself to know 3 things about your students in the first 30 days of school.  This could mean anything from favorite color, to favorite hobby, to favorite sport, to dreams they have of the future, etc.

When they know that you care about them, and are truly interested in them, they will likely work very hard to please you.

 

Goal Seven:

Reduce your own stress this year. Jensen suggests trying to reduce your stress by 50%. He states, “Make a choice every day that if you can’t do something about the issue, just let it go. Otherwise you get stressed and carry the weight of all the world’s wrongs and problems in your heart. The more stress you generate within your brain and body, the less effective you are. If you can’t do something about it, you’ll feel better and regulate your stress (and probably live longer) if you Let It Go!”