Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Using Positivity to Reach a “Tough Audience”

High school students can be a “tough audience,” especially for a physical education teacher, but Marlene Mendes described in the BrainSMART publication, Effective Teaching, Effective Students, how she learned a variety of strategies through the brain-based graduate degree program to create a positive learning state and to encourage students to approach new challenges with an optimistic outlook.

Ms. Mendes, who has more than 30 years of teaching experience, teaches secondary students in San Luis Opispo, California. At the time of her interview, she observed that her studies to earn her master’s degree have underscored the importance of the teacher and students maintaining a positive outlook on teaching and learning.

“I had a student who had a very negative attitude,” she reported. “I talked to her about it and asked her to name three positive things, trying to get her to focus on being positive.” As a result of that conversation, the student turned her attitude around. She started dressing out and participating. She became a lot more involved and a lot less negative.

Ms. Mendes had positive results with other students as well. She attributed this to the graduate degree program for having a great deal of substance and being paced efficiently so that teachers can earn their degrees even as they are implementing brain-based learning strategies with their students. The emphasis on the state of the learner was extremely important, she added, observing that the program “provided great data and evidence about the academic relevance of physical education for our young people.”

“Personally, I would love to see my entire school get the information about the state of the learner, as well as the district leadership and the school board,” Ms. Mendes commented. “I’d like everyone to have a good idea of the benefit of physical education when they make long-range plans so they can see the carry-over benefit to the classroom— students with better attention spans, improved memory, and on and on.”

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