Thursday, April 28, 2016

Use Failure as a Motivator to Try Again

By Guest Blogger Donna Wilson

Imagine if all the great inventors and scientists throughout history used failure as an excuse to give up. Would we have ever had electricity? The telephone? The airplane? The Internet? A cure for polio or other eradicated diseases?

Even the most successful individuals among us have failed at something in our lives. Persistence, adaptability and experimentation have enabled us to move past those failures to find subsequent success. Sometimes, however, keeping students motivated to try in the aftermath of a failure can be very challenging for teachers (and parents).

Students may interpret failure as being caused by an inherent lack of ability, in which case they won't be inclined to redouble their efforts so that they can succeed at a similar task the next time. If students attribute their failure to something that is inherent within their being, they are more likely to develop a pessimistic outlook that will thwart successful learning in the future.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Guiding Students So Their Potential
Takes Root

by Guest Blogger Donna Wilson

Happy spring! In many parts of the United States, this season of renewal is a welcome relief after a long and drab winter—all the more reason to celebrate springtime’s arrival with a metaphor about the seeds of potential that virtually all students possess to learn, grow, and achieve their goals in school and in life.

A favorite teaching and learning strategy among educators who participate in our brain-based teaching program is using metaphors to explain and explore new concepts. So, let’s use a springtime metaphor to describe how, within each student, seeds of learning can take root. These seeds are transformed not by photosynthesis but by neuroplasticity, defined as changes in the structure and function of the brain as it processes new information.

As with the seedlings in the garden, which require the proper conditions of sun, water, and fertile soil to thrive, so too does learning sprout, grow, and flourish in an enriched environment. That’s where you come in, using the “green thumb” of effective teaching to optimize the power of neuroplasticity that helps students become functionally smarter. Learning blossoms in a positive environment in which all students feel safe, secure, supported, and encouraged to take intellectual risks.