How to teach a young introvert

As the parent of two introverted kids who find school overwhelming, this hits home. These suggestions are actually wonderful for ALL kids, not just introverts.

ideas.ted.com

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What should we do with the quiet kids? A conversation with Susan Cain on the future of classroom education.

Susan Cain sticks up for the introverts of the world. In the U.S., where one third to one half the population identifies as introverts, that means sticking up for a lot of people. Some of them might be data engineers overwhelmed by the noise of an open-floor-plan office. Others might be lawyers turning 30, whose friends shame them for not wanting a big birthday bash. But Cain particularly feels for one group of introverts: the quiet kids in a classroom.

Cain remembers a childhood full of moments when she was urged by teachers and peers to be more outgoing and social — when that simply wasn’t in her nature. Our most important institutions, like schools and workplaces, are designed for extroverts, says Cain in her TED Talk. [Watch: The power of…

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Positives of ADHD

LOVE this article about Scott Barry Kaufman about ADHD, “The Innovative and Creative Power of ADHD”.  I’ve heard him speak, and I find his messaging about ADHD to be so wonderful and empowering.

Listen to the audio interview – it adds much more to the article.

Kaufman says that parents need to work with schools to identify learning formats that don’t stifle creative thinking.

He talks too about students needing some autonomy in their education. I don’t see either of these things happening in the large public high school we interact with. It’s driven in large part by rule following, fill-in-the-bubble tests and classes that don’t value creativity. I won’t go on and on now, I’ve done that in the past. I think I’ll just go get Kaufman’s book

I’ve blogged before about Scott Barry Kaufman

A veteran teacher turned coach shadows 2 students for 2 days – a sobering lesson learned

This is a fascinating article. It is sobering, and as a parent, makes me incredibly sad. The comments are, as all comments are, mixed. Some make me furious, some are insightful.
To those commenters who blame the students for not learning, I ask you to talk to students. Those students in your class who “don’t care” may actually have serious issues at home, have a learning disability or mental health issues, or a myriad of other issues that interfere with learning. Or, maybe, one too many teachers rolled their eyes at them, and the kids no longer feel valued. I hope my kids never have you for a teacher.
I happen to be a parent of one of these kids. She is intelligent, creative, thoughtful and caring. She started school as an enthusiastic student. She will hopefully graduate this year, but she is a different person after being part of the factory school system that rewarded rote memorization over creative analysis. She has ADHD and works 10 times as hard as other students to maintain interest in topics that are not naturally interesting to her. Do not blame her for not being interested in every subject in school. I bet you weren’t either, and that’s why we – as adults – choose to be attorneys or scientists. We don’t study everything.

To those who support lectures, I hope you realize that the world has changed. While some lecture is still valuable, our entire world has shifted to a far more visual place. We access information differently. We process information differently. And that’s ok. It doesn’t all have to be the same as it was 20, 30, 60 years ago in order to be valuable. How dare you say you can teach if you are unwilling to learn new things?

After watching our daughter hammered down by a school system that does not reward her learning style, we purposefully chose a different school for my son. His class periods are long, but he says he never, ever sits for the whole time. He never goes a class period without interacting (verbally or physically) with the teacher and other students. His school builds in daily opportunities for students to move around the building and engage in learning other than classroom. He is given ample time to complete homework in school, and rarely has more than an hour of work at night. This means he can continue with his outside interests, which includes singing, composing/arranging music, piano, and reptiles. His learning at home is as valuable as his learning at school, and school supports this.

Granted, and...

The following account comes from a veteran HS teacher who just became a Coach in her building. Because her experience is so vivid and sobering I have kept her identity anonymous. But nothing she describes is any different than my own experience in sitting in HS classes for long periods of time. And this report of course accords fully with the results of our student surveys. 

I have made a terrible mistake.

I waited fourteen years to do something that I should have done my first year of teaching: shadow a student for a day. It was so eye-opening that I wish I could go back to every class of students I ever had right now and change a minimum of ten things – the layout, the lesson plan, the checks for understanding. Most of it!

This is the first year I am working in a school but not teaching…

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Dropouts

Ran across a post about a study that found the most common reason for high school dropouts.

Reasons cited – emphasis mine:

  1. Toxic environment outside of school – student experiencing violence or other issue at home
  2. Relationships with others – failure of a student to connect with an adult at the school
  3. Lack of support – “The salience of school isn’t there because of what’s happening outside the school building, and they aren’t finding the supports they need within school…”

Wow – I sure sense one thing here: Let’s blame everything EXCEPT the school.

Each of these reasons points to an external cause of the student leaving school. Did it ever occur to them that the reason might be school itself?

I see this happening right before my eyes. My daughter was very serious this summer about not returning to school. She is not suffering any violence at home, connects with many adults at school, and I think the salience of school isn’t because of what’s happening outside of school, but rather because of what’s happening inside of school.

One commenter points out the possibility of undiagnosed learning disabilities. In our case, they have been diagnosed, but she’s had little support at school. We’ve done a tremendous amount away from school, but very little has happened at school.

She feels — and I see — very little salience for school in the outside world. What she learns and does in school has no meaning to what she sees outside. It feels irrelevant.

Talk about toxic environment. The vast majority of assessments are bubble tests. She doesn’t happen to be good at taking bubble tests… so every time she turns around she’s getting a failing grade. There are 2000 kids in her school – it’s loud, chaotic, and can be violent. She feels trapped, has no control over her life there.

Fortunately there is one adult who has made it worth her while to be there. Let’s hope it’s enough to ensure she finishes.

Teaching History for the Quiz Show

Fantastic article in The Atlantic, “High School History Doesn’t have to be Boring” by David Cutler questioning why teachers are still (and why they ever) taught history as a class to memorize a series of events. I wish my kids had this guy for a teacher!

Great quote:

But as we go farther into the 21st century, with changes almost too numerous to fathom, I find it mindboggling that any teacher would still treat history class as boring preparation for a quiz show.

 

This is a great way to look at teaching history:

  • Teachers are foolish to expect students to remember anything for long that has little to no direct relevance in their daily lives.
  • Teachers need to do a much better job of connecting history to today, and placing a greater emphasis on how young people could learn from past mistakes.
  • Teachers should assess students on what they can do with what they know, rather than how much they know at any given time.

My daughter’s experience with AP History was horrific — they had to read pages and pages of dense text “to prepare them for college” – what bullshit – and take pages and pages of multiple choice tests with questions that were basic fact memorization. I hear they are doing a little more Document Based Questions in the 11th grade AP US History, but still tons and tons of multiple choice questions.

I’m much happier with her “regular” history class. Few tests, many more projects and less rote memorization. According to everyone, it doesn’t have the rigor. But who cares — we could argue the “rigor” aspect, and it’s not just shoving Google-able facts down their throats.

To AP or Not?

Another interesting article about the move away from AP classes: “Is it Time to Reconsider AP Classes?” from Mindshift.

I’m not shy about my dislike of AP classes (there are a few posts about AP classes on this blog. I’m not going to restate them here.) This post raises some very good points about why AP is being reconsidered in many schools.

Recent issue in my daughter’s school: an AP Music Theory class is being proposed. Comments from the administrators were that they didn’t want to offer it because it wouldn’t appeal to students of color/low income/ELL. Wow. Horrifying.

Video

Susan Cain: The power of introverts | Talk Video | TED


Being a strong extrovert, learning about introverts made me rethink so many of my — and society’s — existing paradigms. What social behaviors do we value? How do we teach kids?

My kids are both strong introverts. My daughter is probably off the charts, although as a teen-ager, she also enjoys being with friends. However, she avoids large events, has a small, tight group of friends, and craves having a full day of time all by herself. A full day of school exhausts her.

Where does this leave her academically? As Susan Cain explains, school now revolves largely around group activities. Even if the work is done on your own, you’re always surrounded by other people – up to 35 or more kids in a classroom.

No wonder she retreats to the safety of her phone in school. It’s one way to be by herself in a sea of humanity.