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Archive for June 2013

Resilience: The Other 21st Century Skills

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Due to the interest of my post The Other 21st Skills, I decided to individually discuss each of the skills or dispositions I proposed that are in addition to the seven survival skills as identified by Tony Wagner.

This post focuses on resiliency.  The first post focused on Grit:  The Other 21st Century Skills.  Some would categorize Grit and Resiliency as the same skill, but it is my belief they are involve two different, but interconnected, skill sets.  While grit focuses on persistence, resilience is about bouncing back in the face of challenges and/or failure.

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Some of characteristics or dispositions of Resilience include:

  • Bouncing Back
  • Managing Emotions
  • Awareness of Strengths and Assets
  • Passion-Driven Focus
  • Resourcefulness
  • Sense of Personal Agency
  • Ability to Reach Out to Others
  • Problem-Solving Skills

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Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.

Being resilient does not mean that a person doesn’t experience difficulty or distress. Emotional pain and sadness are common in people who have suffered major adversity or trauma in their lives. In fact, the road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress.

Resilience is not a trait that people either have or do not have. It involves behaviors, thoughts and actions that can be learned and developed in anyone. (The Road to Resilience)

Resiliency is not one specific thing, but a combination of skills and positive attributes that people gain from their life experiences and relationships. These attributes help them solve problems, cope with challenges and bounce back from disappointments.

Personal resiliency is about our assets – the resources, attributes and skills that help us recover from negative events or feelings, cope with challenges and adversity, and look after ourselves when things aren’t going well. (Kids Can Cope: Parenting at Home and at School)

Resilience research clearly reveals the following key points:

  • All individuals have the power to transform and change
  • Teachers and schools have the power to transform lives
  • It’s how teachers do what they do that counts
  • Teachers’ beliefs in innate capacity start the change process

A common finding in resilience research is the power of a teacher–often unbeknown to him or her–to tip the scale from risk to resilience. Werner and Smith (1989) found that, “Among the most frequently encountered positive role models in the lives of the children . . . outside of the family circle, was a favorite teacher.” The approaches, or “strategies,” used by these turnaround teachers provide a set of best practices or benchmarks to guide our work in classrooms and schools. Repeatedly, these mentors are described as providing, in their own personal styles and ways, the protective factors.

  • Caring Relationships which includes loving support, respect, compassion.  The bottom line is that learners are provided with a sense of “You Matter”  (see Angela Maiers initiative YouMatter)
  • High Expectations which includes belief in the learners’ innate resilience and self-righting capacities; challenge-with-support messages (“I know your can do this”); guidance without coercion; and a strengths-focus
  • Opportunities for Participation and Contribution which is facilitated by giving learners opportunities for being responsible for self and others; for reflection and critical thinking, for mastery learning and creative expression

(From Risk to Resiliency from Bonnie Bernard)

Research by Werner, Bernard and others indicate that one fo the major contributing factors towards resiliency is a positive relationship with an adult.  Optimally it should be a parent.  But if the parent is not available for any reason, it can be a teacher or coach.

Ways that educators can connect with learners include:

  • Finding one on one time with learners – during group work time, walking to lunch or specials, during recess, etc.
  • Listen deeply and attentively to what the learners have to say.
  • Insure that each and every learner knows “You Matter”
  • Enjoy being with the students.  If you don’t care deeply about them, then I believe there is problem.  I have said and will continue to say to my pre-service teachers, if you don’t love them find another profession.

Given the skills that promote resiliency, it is also the educator’s responsibility to:

  • Build a sense of community in the classroom;
  • Give students the opportunity to ask for help;
  • Give learners the opportunity to assist one another during difficult and challenging learning activities;
  • Honor, encourage, and reinforce the expression of feelings;
  • Encourage and reinforce learners’ own innate resiliency;
  • Promote and teach learners how to be assertive;
  • Ask learners to be accountable for their behavior – both positive and negative;
  • Normalize failure – teach learners how to reflect on their failures as opportunities for growth;
  • Help learners recognize and change negative, self-defeating self-talk;
  • Teach and help learners cope with stress.

If you, as an educator, take one idea from this post, let it be that working to maintain a positive and significant relationship with learners is the most important way to contribute to their resiliency.

Parting message to educators:

The key point from resilience research is that successful development and transformative power exists not in programs per se but at the deeper level of relationships, beliefs and expectations, and willingness to share power.

Relax, have fun, and trust the process! Working from your own innate resilience and well-being engages the innate resilience and well-being of our students. Thus, teaching becomes much more effortless and enjoyable. Moreover, resiliency research as well as research on nurturing teachers and successful schools gives us all the proof needed to lighten up, let go of our tight control, be patient, and trust the process.

Remember, you matter! Resilience research clearly tells us when you care, believe in, and “invite back” our nation’s most precious resource – our children and youth – you are not only enabling their healthy development and successful learning. You are, indeed, creating inside-out social change–building the compassionate and creative citizenry that will be critical to the 21st century. (From Risk to Resiliency from Bonnie Bernard)

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

June 30, 2013 at 2:36 am

Education 3.0: eBook of Blog Posts

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What follows is an ebook compilation of blog posts I wrote about Education 3.0:

Process to create eBook from blog posts and then embed it into a WordPress.com blog post:

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

June 16, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Education 3.0: Altering Round Peg in Round Hole Education

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What follows is my Ignite talk for ISTE 2013.  It was rejected by the selection committee.  As I already conceptualized the talk and think it is such an important topic, I am disseminating my text and slides via my blog and Slideshare.  First, Education 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 are described.  Later, I discuss the consequences of Education 1.0 vs Education 3.0 on learners (and educators!) especially those that do not fit the mold of Education 1.0.

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Education 1.0 can be likened to Web 1.0 where there is a one-way dissemination of knowledge from teacher to student.  It is a type of essentialist, behaviorist education based on the three Rs – receiving by listening to the teacher; responding by taking notes, studying text, and doing worksheets; and regurgitating by taking standardized tests which in reality is all students taking the same test. Learners are seen as receptacles of that knowledge and as receptacles, they have no unique characteristics.  All are viewed as the same.  It is a standardized/one-size-fits-all education.

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Derek W. Keats and J. Philipp Schmidt provide an excellent comparison of how Education 1.0 is similar to Web 1.0.

Education 1.0 is, like the first generation of the Web, a largely one-way process. Students go to school to get education from teachers, who supply them with information in the form of a stand up routine that may include the use of class notes, handouts, textbooks, videos, and in recent times the World Wide Web. Students are largely consumers of information resources that are delivered to them, and although they may engage in activities based around those resources, those activities are for the most part undertaken in isolation or in isolated local groups. Rarely do the results of those activities contribute back to the information resources that students consume in carrying them out. (http://p2pfoundation.net/Education_3.0)

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Similar to Web 2.0, Education 2.0 includes more interaction between the teacher and student; student to student; and student to content/expert.  Education 2.0, like Web 2.0, permits interactivity between the content and users, and between users themselves.  Education 2.0 has progressive roots where the human element is important to learning.  The teacher-to-student and student-to-student relationships are considered as part of the learning process.  It focuses on the three Cs – communicating, contributing, and collaborating.

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Some school administrators and educators seem to have taken steps and moved into a more connected, creative Education 2.0 through using project-based and inquiry learning, cooperative learning, global learning projects, Skype in the classroom, and shared wikis, blogs and other social networking in the classroom.  But in 2013, this should be the norm not the exception.

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Education 3.0 is based on the belief that content is freely and readily available as is characteristic of Web 3.0. It is self-directed, interest-based learning where problem-solving, innovation and creativity drive education. Education 3.0 is also about the three Cs but a different set – connectors, creators, constructivists.  These are qualitatively different than the three Cs of Education 2.0.  Now they are nouns which translates into the art of being a self-directed learner rather than doing learning as facilitated by the educator.

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Education 3.0 is characterized by educational opportunities where the learners themselves play a key role as creators of knowledge artifacts that are shared, and where social networking and social benefits play a strong role. The distinction between artifacts, people and process becomes blurred, as do distinctions of space and time. Institutional arrangements, including policies and strategies, change to meet the challenges of opportunities presented. There is an emphasis on learning and teaching processes with the breakdown of boundaries (between teachers and students, institutions, and disciplines (http://p2pfoundation.net/Education_3.0).

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Education 3.0 is a constructivist, heutagogical approach to teaching and learning.  The teachers, learners, networks, connections, media, resources, tools create a a unique entity that has the potential to meet individual learners’, educators’, and even societal needs.  Education 3.0 recognizes that each educator’s and student’s journey is unique, personalized, and self-determined. http://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/learning-on-the-edge/

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So given that the that the time is ripe for Education 3.0, that we are in a perfect storm of free and available online resources, tools for creating and sharing information, and networking opportunities, what is stopping administrators and educators from implementing an Education 3.0 . . . at least some of the time?  Some of the reasons educators profess include: “I don’t have enough time.”, “I don’t have enough resources.”, “I need more training.”, “I need to teach using the textbook.” ,”I need to teach to the test.”, “I might lose control of the class.”, “I have always successful taught this way.”

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These are the symptoms of Education 1.0. Many educators feel forced into this paradigm of teaching with dire consequences to both their and their students attitudes toward education.  But these are external obstacles whereby most of blame for resisting change is placed outside of educator responsibility. The result is a fixed mindset of learned helplessness, “I cannot change because the system won’t let me change.”  Sometimes educators are creating some obstacles for themselves that in reality don’t exist. “Talking them into” or insisting on specific changes often creates more and stronger walls of resistance.

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A mental shift occurs when a fixed mindset which often leads to learned helplessness is changed to a growth and positive mindset, believing that there are options; that one can grow, change, and be significant.  It becomes focusing on what can work rather than what is not working.  This is not to devalue the obstacles that teachers face. It becomes about noting where change is possible and making some small changes in teaching.  Small changes often result in larger, more systemic change.

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The bottom line, though, is not is what is in the best interests of the teacher, the administration, the politicians.  It is what is in the best interests of the learner.  The student should be central to education – not the content, not the tests, not the standards, not what we think students should know and do.  Teachers did not become teachers to teach to the test, to develop practice tests or worksheets, to work with pre-scripted curriculum to meet standards.  Teachers became teachers to teach students, first and foremost.  The learner needs to be central to all teaching endeavors.

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So what are the consequences of a standards-driven Education 1.0 on the learner?  Education 1.0 for many students results boredom, a wasting away of their time and sometimes their minds.  But there are bigger consequences than boredom. There are especially dire consequences for learners with oddly shaped minds.  This is not meant to be derogatory.  It just means that they see, think, hear, visualize, imagine the world a little differently than others.

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In a system of Education 1.0, they are often seen as irregularly shaped pegs.  The system doesn’t like oddly shaped pegs as oddly shaped pegs don’t adapt well to standardized.  They don’t fit into any type of round or even square holes.  Way too often, they system attempts to whittle away at them trying to get them to fit.  The system whittles and whittles away at them until nothing may be left.

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I am a lifelong survivor, seeking continual recovery from Education 1.0.  I was different, that oddly shaped peg.  Because I called out answers, questioned the content I was learning, spoke to classmates when something interested me, didn’t want to take multiple choice tests; I was yelled at, punished, kicked out of class, physically hit, embarrassed in front of peers.  The damage done to me has left an indelible, lifelong legacy that I am odd, weird, not good enough.

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Education should, at least, have the same standards as the medical field, “First, do no harm.”  This is the minimal standard that should be practiced.  Optimally, it should be about providing an individualized, personalized, engaging, passion-driven education that is characterized by an Education 3.0.  This is ethically the right thing to do.

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I put every kind of metaphor I could think of on this slide.  Educators should assist students in catching dreams; finding their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, being on cloud nine, reaching the top of the peak.  What kind of educator do you want to be?  A whittler or a dream-facilitator?  You have a choice.  You really do.

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Do you want a student of yours in the future to stand on a stage like this and talk about the damage done to him or her due to your behavior or do you want him or her to talk about your being the teacher who made a difference?  What type of legacy do you want to leave in the world?

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Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

June 9, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Grit: The Other 21st Century Skills

with 3 comments

Due to the interest of my post The Other 21st Skills, I decided to discuss individually each of the skills or dispositions I proposed that are in addition to the seven survival skills as identified by Tony Wagner.

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This post focuses on Grit:

6a00d8341c721253ef017d3d5bc316970c-800wiHere is Angela Duckwoth’s TED Talk about Grit that provides an overview about the topic.

Angela Duckworth developed a scale to measure Grit found at https://sasupenn.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_06f6QSOS2pZW9qR

Some of characteristics or dispositions of Grit include:

  • Perseverance and Tenacity
  • Deliberate Practice
  • Ability to Delay Gratification
  • Passion-Driven Focus
  • Self Control and Self Discipline
  • Long Term Goal-Oriented
  • Stick-to-it-ness Under Difficult Conditions
  • Consistency of Effort

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So how can Grit be taught or facilitated?

  • Awareness of grit can be brought more into conscious by first, teaching learners about grit and then by helping them reflect on their degree and level of grit.  This can occur through discussions, writing or journaling, or through some form of artistic expression – a series of drawings, photos, or videos about examples of when and how they experience sustained and deliberate practice, consistency of effort, and ability to delay gratification.
  • Grit can be practiced through having learners do long term project-based learning activities and/or working on long term independent studies based on their interests and passions.

Students should be provided with opportunities to take on higher-order or long-term goals that are “worthy” to the student—goals that are “optimally challenging” and aligned with the students’ own interests. An important principle is that students are likely see goals as “worthy” when they engage their interest and enthusiasm through alignment with specific interests or established values and goals. When students have opportunities to work toward goals that are meaningfully connected to their future success, cultural values, lives outside of school, and/or topics that are personally interesting and relevant, they are more likely to persevere when faced with challenge. In many cases, particularly with unfamiliar material, educators need to engage students in activities that bridge from their interests and familiar experiences to the learning objectives to help students attain more complex learning goals. (Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance—Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century)

  • Grit can be reinforced though provide emotionally and intellectual support for grit-related behaviors.

Rigorous and supportive learning environments instill, for example, high expectations, a growth mindset, expectations for challenge and early failure, cycles of constructive feedback and iteration, and a sense of belonging; and support for strategies to plan, monitor, and stay on track. (Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance—Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century)

  • For grit to flourish, learners need to be given tangible resources.

Students are also more likely to persevere in learning environments that provide the tangible resources—materials, human, and time—necessary to overcome challenges and accomplish their goals. Depending on the type of goals, materials can include access to particular programs, technology, rigorous curriculum, equipment or materials to complete projects, course tuition, or physical facilities where students can do their work. Human resources can include mentoring, tutoring, peer guidance, teachers with particular training, or special services. Time can also be a precious resource—in optimal challenge, students need to have adequate time to grapple with their difficulties, reflect, get feedback, iterate, and try new approaches. (Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance—Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century)

  • As a final note about promoting or facilitating grit, giving extrinsic based rewards does not help in developing grit.

Perseverance that is the result of a “token economy” that places a strong emphasis on punishments and rewards may undermine long-term grit; in particular, while these fundamentally manipulative supports can seem to “work” in the short-run, when students go to a different environment without these supports, they may not have developed the appropriate psychological resources to continue to thrive. (Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance—Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century)

Vicki Davis in the Edutopia article True Grit: The Best Measure of Success and How to Teach It has these additional suggestions for “teaching” grit in the classroom:

  1. Read books about grit.
  2. Talk about grit.
  3. Share problems.
  4. Help students develop a growth mindset.
  5. Find a framework.
  6. Live grittily.
  7. Foster safe circumstances that encourage grit.

Additional Educational Resources:

While there is a great deal of work in this area broadly, the importance of grit, tenacity, and perseverance in education is not necessarily widely known, and stakeholders at many levels may not understand the importance of investing resources in these priorities. In many settings, awareness-raising is necessary so that teachers, administrators, parents, and all other stakeholders in the educational community see these issues as important and become invested in supporting change: Educators, administrators, and parents who understand the importance of these issues and are passionate about shifting educational priorities, within their own institutions and beyond, need to become proactive advocates for change in the educational community to gain buy-in, tangible support for students as they pursue big goals, financial resources, and political support. (Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance—Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century)

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

June 1, 2013 at 1:45 am

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