Mining Magnificent Minds


Being a teacher means trying to help every child be successful in the classroom. However, ask yourself this question: What can teachers do to get the most out of their students? There are a lot of answers to this question such as differentiate instruction, use collaboration, conference with the student, make learning real and meaningful. However, also ask yourself this question: What is the most challenging part to getting the most out of each child? Lack of student motivation, learning differences, lack of time to individualize, among others, are all things that tend to get in the way of mining the most out of the magnificent minds of their students.

According to Dr. Ed Hallowell a noted child psychiatrist who wrote the book, “Shine” and many others, all children can be successful and teachers will mine the most out of their students if the following steps are carried out in their classroom.
1. Connect- Make sure your classroom is inviting and that students feel safe and loved.
2. Play- Not in the sense of recess, but help students get engaged with ideas. Help students use their imagination, experiment and wonder about what if… with the ideas and concepts they are learning.
3. Work/practice- Students need to work and practice with the skills they are learning. Working helps students “get into an assignment and, fueled by that feeling, to work harder he or she makes progress and gains a sense of well being and accomplishment, which enables them to do their best.”
4. Progress- Assess and look for progress in your children. For instance look for improvement in their writing. Discuss with students where they are improving and where they still need to work harder. You can’t improve if you don’t know what you did right or wrong.
5. Recognition – instead of looking at what a child can’t do, concentrate on the progress they are making and recognize any improvement you see. Rewarding your students for their progress fuels the student’s desire to excel because they want the praise and recognition for an assignment or task well done.

According to Dr. Hallowell’s research which he backed with brain science and performance research, teachers who take the time to make sure their classroom, their curriculum and their interaction with children follow the steps above will inspire students to reach their peak performance.

How does a teacher do this? Take the time to talk in your classroom. Let the children own their learning and make the learning meaningful. Good examples of how to do this are using project based learning, using STEM based science programs, a strong advisory program, using other assessment besides multiple-choice tests. Use technology and web 2.0 tools to help you make the learning more engaging. For example use one of Lodge McCammon’s kinesthetic lessons (found in Discovery Streaming) where the kids sing, dance and collaborate to make a music video. Then post the videos on your school website to recognize their progress and celebrate their work. Enroll your class in a worldwide project that helps them realize the relevance of what they are learning and the importance of producing a good product since it will have a worldwide audience.

Any project or idea will work as long as a teacher keeps the five steps to success in mind. As Dr. Hallowell explains “emotion is the on or off switch for learning”, so making sure you connect, play, work, make progress and recognize will help all teachers mine the most from the magnificent minds of our students.


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