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In our current world, positive interactions and good conversation skills are more important than ever.  The following article by Allen Mendler gives suggestions to help educators teach these important skills.   Fostering the skills in your classroom will create a culture and environment of warmth and trust.  

8 Tips for Speaking and Listening

While it is impossible to know all of the reasons, there is no doubt that learning to listen and talk is an extremely important way to broaden knowledge, enhance understanding and build community. Perhaps this is why the core standards in English-language arts include an important emphasis on developing speaking and listening, the basic tools for conversation. The eight tips below can be used regularly to help your kids learn good conversational skills.

1. Model a Good Conversation

Make a point of having one-to-two minute interactions, one-on-one, at least a few times each week with students who struggle conversationally. Share information about yourself as you might when meeting a friend or acquaintance, and show interest in the student by asking questions about his or her interests. Conversation enhancers include responses and prompts like:

  • "Really?"
  • "Wow!"
  • "That’s interesting."
  • "No kidding!"

If these students don't or won't share easily at first, don't give up.

2. Encourage Physical Cues

Identify procedures for having a conversation that includes appropriate non-verbal behavior. For example, you might teach a strategy like S.L.A.N.T. (Sit up straight. Listen. Answer and ask questions. Nod to show interest. Track the speaker.)

3. Challenge Put-Downs or Hurtful Comments

For example, if a student says, "I think what she did was really stupid," challenge with "How else can you say that without being hurtful?" If the student seems unaware, teach an alternative like, "I disagree with that." Ask the student to repeat what you said and then move on to:

  • "What happened to make you feel that way?"
  • "How would you have handled things differently?"
  • "Do you think there is only right answer, or could there be more?"

4. Ask Open-Ended Questions

These are questions without one correct answer, questions that stimulate discussion and can be a very powerful way to reinforce the idea that there are different views of an issue, or a set of beliefs that can be equally valid. For example: "So if Columbus came knocking on your door and told you that sailing to the New World would be an amazing adventure and there might be lots of riches there, but you might never arrive because the world was flat, would you go?"

5. Put Thinking Ahead of Knowing

When asked a question, don’t accept "I don't know." Tell students that you don't require them to "know" but that you do expect them to "think." Teach them how to wonder aloud, speculate, guess or give the best answer they can. ("I'm not sure about that, but I think _____ .")

6. Have Informal Chats

Before class begins or in the hallway, ask students about their other classes, what they think about a current event, or how they feel about the outcome of a game. Share your thoughts as well. ("I thought it was more that the Jets lost the game than anything the Eagles did to win. How did you see it?")

7. Make Eye Contact

When a student is speaking in class and you are listening, give him or her your eye contact. However, gradually scan away from the speaker and direct your gaze and movement towards other students. This will often get the speaker to redirect his or her talk toward peers, and it invites peers to get and stay involved with what is being said.

8. Encourage Turn-Taking

Use an object, such as a talking stick, as a signal for turn-taking. Teach your students that when they have the object, it is their turn to talk or pass while others are expected to listen.

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MINDSETS IN THE CLASSROOM

When students believe that dedication and hard work can change their performance in school, they grow to become resilient, successful students.  As educators of Jordan School District we want to make sure that we have a growth mindset and believe in “ Every Child, Every Day”.mindset-in-the-classroom

Each month we will post ideas from the book , Mindsets in the Classroom, 2013 by Marcy Cay Ricci, that provides educators with ideas for ways to build a growth mindset school culture, wherein students are challenged to change their thinking about their  abilities and potentials.

Chapter 1 begins by supporting the idea that intelligence is malleable.  Dr. Carol Dweck, in her 2006 book , Mindset, The Psychology of Success  describes a belief system that learners with a growth mindset believe that  they can learn just about anything. It might take more time and effort, but they will get it.  An educator with a growth mindset believes that with effort and hard work from the learner, all students can demonstrate significant growth and all students deserve opportunities for challenges.

Growth Mindset Fixed Mindset
A belief system that suggests that one’s intelligence can be grown or developed with persistence, effort, and a focus on learning

A belief system that suggests a person has a predetermined amount of intelligence, skills or talents

 

Do you believe that intelligence is something you are born with? Do you believe that it cannot be changed?

 Dweck presents the idea that students in a fixed mindset is problematic at both ends of the continuum. For those students who struggle or do not perceive themselves as smart, it becomes a self-fulling prophecy.  Because they don’t really believe they can be successful and will often give up and not put forth the effort.  For those students who are advanced learners become consumed by “looking smart” at all costs. They may have coasted through school without really putting forth much effort, yet they are often praised for their  good grades and strong skills. Often students with a fixed mindset will start avoiding situations where they may fail;they can become” risk adverse” or blames outside forces when failure occurs.

Please check back next month and we will look at Chapter 2, "What are some ways to begin building a growth mindset culture"

 

 

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At this time of year, when so many of our students are in the thick of test taking, it seems natural to think about our own year's growth. How high have we climbed in the last year on what John Hattie calls the "ladder of excellence?" Whatever role in which we are presently cast, we might ask the same question. Whether a seasoned veteran mentor or a wide-eyed newbie, we are each somewhere reaching ever higher.

One of the primary objectives of a new teacher and mentor program at a school ought to be a focus on accelerating this rate of climb for new teachers and mentors alike. If the relationship is truly collaborative, both are enriched through the mutual benefit of experiences and expertise.

The type of growth hoped for in a mentoring relationship can only occur through a process of dialogue. As Paulo Freire describes it, dialogue is dependent on both members of the relationship having an equal voice and working together to construct an improved understanding. He says that "no one can say a true word alone—nor can she say it for another, in a prescriptive act which robs others of their words. Dialogue is the encounter between men, mediated by the world, in order to name the world."

In such a complex profession as education, if we are to advance, we must engage in a constant process of naming and renaming the world. At the core of the work of an educator is something like what Wallace Stevens describes as a "response to the daily necessity of getting the world right." And to really get it right, we will need to share in the expertise of others who are similarly engaged in the same process.

 

 

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Planning for Parent Teacher Conferences

Parent-Teacher Conferences can sometimes cause stress and anxiety. We know that to be effective teachers, we need to provide “documentation of student progress and descriptive feedback to students and parents” (Utah Effective Teaching Standards; Standard 5).

Teachers will find that conferences will go smoother when doors of communication are opened at the beginning of the year. As they get to know their students and begin making notes of things they observe students do, teachers can keep parents in the know of any unusual behaviors or concerns before conferences. Then, conference time can be better spent focusing on the student’s learning and how to help each student achieve success.

Harvard Family Research Project has compiled information to help you prepare and be successful in your Parent-Teacher Conference experience. They have included before conference ideas, thought processes, during conference ideas, and after conference ideas. Check out their list here: Parent–Teacher Conference Tip Sheets for Principals, Teachers, and Parents

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