Most leaders and faculty agree that to capitalize on the brain’s known abilities is to create a climate for high performance minds. Most learners agree that care and support can transform ordinary learning into fun-filled adventures and delightful discoveries. Sadly though, science about brains and observation of failed cultures sheds light on 5 mistakes that prevent learning and barricade us from the mind-bending communities we crave.
For instance, we too often fail to –
- Spot differences as a place to launch new ideas. Our learners differ vastly in how they start, grow, and manage their learning journey. Imagine each students coming to class with at least eight distinctive intelligences, for instance. Now imagine these in different proportions for each student, and growing stronger daily in some students. This mental mix should showcase the necessity of creating clear targets and facilitating multiple ways to reach these. I tend to start with a quick multiple intelligence survey – and then students help to build lesson tasks based on their differences and my lesson targets.
- Build relevancy through fostering practical applications. For instance, young adults come to our tables with curiosity, interests, talents and questions rarely expressed. For that reason they increasingly find learning sadly irrelevant to life beyond their classes. The result? Alarming new research shows youth dropping out in record numbers.
- Hone in on poor tone, and intervene when curmudgeonese emerges. When even a few outspoken students toss out poor tone – even cracks spotted in pop culture, they can work against building blocks that rely on healthy tone practices. On the other hand, to miss tone skill’s potential to be genuinely inclusive, is to bypass a shared pathway forward for entire groups. I name 4 required tone practices – and students love to give specific evidence of using at least one during each class. They love to show an example of their efforts in exit slips on the way out of class. See how participation grades are student-led as students speak up and feel heard – and we build a stronger culture together daily?
- Ask and converse rather than tell or demand one way. How often do you engage disengaged or bored students to discover what they need to get ahead in their group? I hang posters such as this free sample as a reminder to ask and model fun interactions – even though I was taught to simply tell and lecture in upper grades. The poster below for example, reminds us how to build a healthy learning climate where faculty learns at times and students teach at times. have you seen it happen?
- Laugh at the little things and especially giggle at ourselves. Laughter that generates respect and fun for all acts like an elixir to brains. So it’s not surprising that even a belly laugh can promote learning. The opposite is also true. Sarcasm, cynicism or cutting up over others’ weaknesses – deepens the trap and prevents a healthy learning climate. Would you agree?
My question is, How can we avoid mistakes and capitalize on strengths to build strong learning cultures?