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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Coaching a Learner's Mindset and Apt Actions

This is what today's learning menu looked like. Students independently access
the menu in class and/or at home to learn at their level of need and interest. 
"As the independent learning venues improve, the need to coach a learner's mindset and apt actions increases."

"Everyone has five minutes of extra choice time thanks to Ian's perseverance," I exclaimed at the end of an independent learning time. The class cheered!  It was a celebratory moment for this classroom of capable learners.

This morning started with a skills lesson led by an independent learning menu.  I had reviewed the scores and data the night before and made a host of decisions regarding the path.  Then I zeroed in on the learners who needed extra help and support.

I had to rework the menu a bit to add a few links for specific learners. As the coaching started I seated myself in the doorway between the hallway lab and classroom. I had a learner seated next to me for some individual coaching. Many students were coaching each other as they embarked on independent tasks at multiple learning levels. Some were using helpful resources such as multiplication charts and erasable white boards and pens. Almost everyone was on task, and for the few that weren't, I changed their seats. The students seated next to me changed as the learning continued. Also during that time a teaching assistant arrived and she targeted other learners in need. During student transitions I got up and reviewed the room and student efforts, making a few helpful changes in seats, tools, and other learning resources as needed.

I heard lots of great learning language as students worked to learn multiple skills:
  • "Can you reset me (the exercise) so I can try again?"
  • "I'm not exactly sure how to do this, can you help me?"
  • "My computer won't start, what should I do?"
  • "Did you see how many minutes I worked on that skill last night?"
  • "I figured out how to do this, let me show you."
It's been three months since the start of the school year and the introduction of multiple learning paths and venues, and only now are children really catching on to what it means to independently coach yourself forward by accessing the best tools, a learner's mindset, and expert help (the help of teachers, classmates, family members, and online resources such as videos).

I've noticed a real switch when it comes to success which is the ability for students to learn well as defined by:
  • Making time for learning.
  • Focusing while learning.
  • Using the best strategies.
  • Making a choice to learn.
As the independent learning venues improve, the need to coach a learner's mindset and apt actions increases. There's no stopping where a learner can go today if he/she has the tools, mindset, knowledge and the use of best strategies.

How do you coach a learner's mindset and actions? What strategies have been most successful in this regard?  What does success look like?  Where do you hope to move in this direction? 

This work matched with today's tools mark a significant shift in the role of educator--a shift I'm very enthusiastic and hopeful about.