Tuesday, May 3, 2022

A Powerful Way to End the School Year

As we get closer to the end of another school year, we wanted to revisit one of our strategies that has been popular with teachers as an effective summary to show students the many great things they've learned.

We call this practical, easy-to-use tool "Celebrating Learning With Year Mapping." This activity gives your current students a chance to feel good about what they’ve learned and provides incoming students an opportunity to see real evidence that they can be successful learners in the coming school year. And it gives teachers a chance to enjoy seeing students share what they’ve learned and to internalize their successful teaching.

Several elements of this strategy make it a powerful way to end the school year with a positive experience, often much needed after testing is over and as a busy year comes to an end. With prompted recall, each student can remember learning events that mean the most to them. Year-end mapping utilizes the power of positive teacher-student relationships as well as personalized learning, summarizing, group learning, and organizing information graphically.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Alleviating Stress in the Current Teaching Climate

As the challenges continue unabated in schools, educators find themselves dealing with an unprecedented level of stress and anxiety. They feel the weight of responsibility required to keep their students safe while also feeling concern for their own health and wellbeing. Amidst the noisy debate about whether to have remote learning, in-person classes, or some type of hybrid model, teachers are on the front lines in striving to ensure that children learn—no matter what venue of teaching prevails.
Our hearts go out to all of you in the teaching profession as you dedicate yourselves to doing your best under extraordinary circumstances. We’d like to suggest five strategies to help you navigate the day-to-day challenges of teaching so that it becomes less stressful and more rewarding.

1. Engage in positive self-talk and self-reflection.

Avoid self-doubt and self-nagging. You have never had to work in an educational environment like the one you find yourself in right now, so be generous in assessing your performance. You don’t need to wait for a big accomplishment to celebrate success. When you have even small successes—such as holding the attention span of remote learners, for instance—pay yourself a compliment. You’re awesome as you have the courage to confront new challenges—and your students are, too! Identifying your strengths helps reinforce a can-do attitude.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Caring for Yourself and Your Students in the Coming School Year

As the new academic year gets underway, my mind is flooded with images of the many passionate and knowledgeable teachers that Marcus and I have met throughout the years. We are in awe of how well you have handled the challenges of the past 18 months and know that, with your resilience and dedication, you will create the very best learning environment for your students in this coming school year. We feel grateful to have the privilege of getting to know you and to be able to continue to learn with many of you.

Something I read recently reminded me that one of many things that makes you so special is that you each possess a generous spirit of giving to the community, as you care about others even when you sometimes hear few voices of appreciation. The positive difference that you make in the lives of other people’s children is remarkable!

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Focusing on Student Motivation

By Donna Wilson

Do you believe students become smarter through learning or that intelligence is determined at birth? The former belief is compatible with a growth mindset, while the latter is consistent with a fixed mindset. The distinction between these two points of view is the basis of Marcus’ and my latest book with ASCD, Developing Growth Mindsets: Principles and Practices for Maximizing Students’ Potential.

If you believe that students can become smarter through hard work and determination, then you are an advocate of a growth mindset and you’re also likely subscribe to the belief that motivation is a key force for learning. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Donna Will Present "Cultivating Growth Mindsets" at ASCD Virtual Conference

Donna will present "Cultivating Growth Mindsets: Strategies That Work" at ASCD's 2021 Annual Conference: Empowered and Connected. This virtual conference, happening live from June 23-25, is the biggest international educational event of the year. With conference sessions that feature a stellar lineup of speakers, you will learn best practices, strategies, and skills that will inspire you and spark your summer learning plans.

Based on her latest book with ASCD, Developing Growth Mindsets, Donna's presentation will take place from 2:20 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern time. In this workshop, participants will discover how a growth mindset drives academic gains and learn Marcus and Donna's seven original principles for cultivating growth mindsets in onsite or virtual classrooms.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

In the Homestretch of the School Year, Keep Students’ Attention

As we approach the end of a school year like no other, it’s fitting that teachers take time to congratulations themselves—and their students—for persevering during the challenging circumstances of remote and/or socially distanced learning. In fact, there is no better time than May or June for giving out academic kudos. Graduations and awards assemblies—even if conducted remotely—provide the opportunity to recognize academic accomplishments that are well worth celebrating.

If your academic year is not quite over yet, encourage your students not to lose focus in the homestretch. Their minds may be on summer break—as they look forward to days spent away from classrooms or computers—but this is a time when the need to capture and keep the brain’s attention may be particularly important. Year-end reviews and testing will reinforce what students need to retain when school resumes in just a few months’ time.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

For Sticky PD, Apply the Science of Learning

We are pleased to share with you our recently published ASCD article! In this piece, we discuss how the science of learning can be used to make professional development meaningful and memorable.

by Marcus Conyers and Donna Wilson

Over two decades, our BrainSMART professional development program has employed a teacher-centered focus, with positive effects on teachers' reactions to training and their learning as well as organization-wide results. Our approach focuses on sharing principles and practices that teachers can readily apply in their classrooms (Wilson & Conyers, 2020). This practical element is key to making professional development stick. As Guskey (2002) states, teachers experience the most significant changes in their beliefs and attitudes after they begin using a new practice and observe the positive effects on student learning.

When we asked what teachers thought they most needed to learn, they asked for practical knowledge, skills, and strategies that could increase student achievement. Teachers identified the need for teaching practices, including how to assist students to think at higher levels, sustain positive engagement, and support students to transfer learning from one context to another (Conyers, 2017).