Posts Tagged ‘Carol Dweck

03
Feb
15

Writings on firstgenerationstudent.com

I have had two guest blog posts go up recently on firstgenerationstudent.com. Check them out if you are interested:

Rethinking what it means to be smart talks about the attitude I think students can use to achieve the most success in their educational endeavours.

How to uses professor’s feedback talks about how to construct a comprehensive plan for improvement based on the comments you get on your papers.

 

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13
May
13

Five years, five lessons in five words: Word 1, persistence

Do or do not. There is no try... (Photo credit - Niallkennedy, Flickr)

Do or do not. There is no try… (Photo credit – Niallkennedy, Flickr)

This month marks the end of my fifth year as the Writing Consultant for First-year Students at Cornell College. In my position, I spend the bulk of my time working with students one-on-one, but I also teach in writing classes across the curriculum and consult with faculty who want to include more writing in their first-year classes. That work has pressed me to redesign my teaching style and ultimately made me a better teacher.

I came to Cornell College just out of graduate school. I’d taught and planned my own courses and considered myself a fair to good teacher. Now, when I look back at the mistakes I made during those years, I cringe. My most egregious sin was relying too much on my rapport with students and not enough on planning lessons designed to challenge students.

Now, the circumstances of my class sessions mean that I can’t rely on having a good relationship with the students to cover over shoddy teaching practices. In most courses, I only teach one or two lessons for an hour or two. Having no previous history with students to draw on, I walk in cold and must try to read the room to adjust the tone and level of my presentation on the fly. I consult with professors before hand to figure out what skills to emphasize, but I am generally not an expert in the content taught in the class. Those challenges impelled me to learn more about the habits of good teachers and to research educational psychology. These ventures resulted in making me a more creative, more organized, and more versatile teacher.

During the last half decade, I’ve learned a lot. Those lessons will be organized here into five posts, each centered around one of five words that have come to define my teaching and how I understand what matters in education in general. The first of those words, persistence, is discussed here.

persistence —  College admissions offices ask for proof of an applicant’s readiness to enter college in the form of measurements of a student’s intellect. Research confirms that high school GPA and standardized tests predict fairly accurately who will succeed at the college level.  Intellect is, however, only one part of the equation. Continue reading ‘Five years, five lessons in five words: Word 1, persistence’

09
Jun
12

Encouraging collaboration & effective brainstorming

Photo credit: Flickr user KatieTT

Having written about brainstorming and group work in three of the more recent posts here, you can imagine I was alarmed to see the blurb, “Brainstorming Doesn’t Really Work,” promoting Jonah Lehrer’s article Group Think: The Brainstorming Myth. After reading the article, I see there’s a lot to learn in thinking through setting up effective collaborations.

The blurb in question focuses on a very specific type of brainstorming that has been proven empirically to provide less creative ideas. When groups are told to throw out ideas without criticism, they tend to come up with a lot of ideas, but those ideas are more predictable, less varied, and ultimately less successful than groups that are free to criticize each other’s ideas. The criticism leads to a reconsideration of ideas, which ultimately makes them better.

Lehrer’s asssertion that this type brainstorming doesn’t work does not mean that groups cannot be creative. In fact, he introduces several studies that show that they can be more creative than individuals under the right conditions. The most compelling parts of the article are those that consider what those right conditions look like. Continue reading ‘Encouraging collaboration & effective brainstorming’

08
Feb
11

Why Glee is ruining the children of America

Last year, Fox did something that school administrators have been unsuccessfully trying to do for decades: it made glee club cool. In the process, it completely ruined the children of America.

Ok, that may be a tiny bit of an overstatement. I’ve got nothing against Glee itself, and I love it’s potential for delightful escapism while still taking on real teenage issues like homophobia, bullying, and teenage pregnancy.

No, this is a complaint about what the show says about work. Continue reading ‘Why Glee is ruining the children of America’

05
Dec
10

On trying and failing: blogging without a net

Of the all the pride-inspiring things about this project, I’m most proud that I have gotten as far as the second post of the blog without mentioning the fear of failure. However, since the fear of failure undermines almost every stage of the writing process of all writers, now is as good a time as any to talk about it, especially as it not only gives insight into the reasons students don’t write effectively, but also explains the cookie cutter look and feel of this blog.

The idea of putting my ideas on writing online in blog form has been percolating for a long time. Out of that brew comes grand aspirations: in a perfect world, this blog will become a place where many different writers will share their ideas. And the possibility of hearing positive feedback (or at least constructive criticism/healthy debate) on ideas that I thought up is flattering. But starting a blog is fraught with complications, not least of which being that I could try and fail, leaving my handful of posts relegated to float in the ether of millions of other ghost blogs out there.

Failure and I don’t get along so well. He tends to stick with me for longer than he should whenever he brings his ugly mug around. Continue reading ‘On trying and failing: blogging without a net’




Good Writer, Bad Writer

Good writer, bad writer reflects the philosophy behind the first writing lesson I attempt to teach students. Too many of them come into college believing that their writing abilities are set in stone. The bad writers continue to struggle, and the good writers don't take enough risks in their writing, figuring that any misstep will throw them back into the "bad writer" category.

Good writer, bad writer is my attempt to break the power of that dichotomy. On here, I share the lessons and attitudes that I teach, but I also talk about the attitudes I have towards my own writing since many of those have informed my own teaching. Thanks for visiting.


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