Monday, December 7, 2015

We're growing up little by little (Celebration)

And so to the last of Ann McMullan's five critical skills that my students need.

5 Persistence.

Again, it is hard to argue against this as a necessary skill. She defines persistence as "the ability to continue with a task and maintain attention despite setbacks, resistance, or distraction".

As I've indicated before, my classroom door has a Maori phrase on it - Whaia Kia Maia - pursue it until it is conquered - so, yeah, I'm a fan.

It IS important that students learn how to keep focused, despite challenges. No problem there. 

But where does this come from? I'm a strong believer in intrinsic motivation (rather than external incentives and rewards). Getting a student to believe in the power of effort and hard work goes a long way towards ensuring perseverance when the going gets tough. But having that belief is tricky. Very tricky.
Like students anywhere, my students are on a continuum from very low persistence levels to intrinsically motivated workaholics. Most fall into the bell curve middle ground.

What do I do to help them? 

Having regular checkpoints works for some students. We have a couple of humungous assignment style standards that last two terms and hopefully the progress checkpoints enable students to build on a pattern of success.

Secondly, our English courses are now set up to provide stacks of choice, which, again hopefully, increases their motivation and engagement.

So - that's the five - a recap for you from her article:

1 Self-Direction 
2 Evidence Based Thinking
3 Persistence
4 Calculated Risk Taking
5 Tolerance for Ambiguity

I think you'll all agree (oh blogosphere-ites) that she's onto something with this list!

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