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).

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Cultivating Practical Optimism in Remote Learning Environments

As the COVID-19 pandemic moves into its second year, experts are expressing concerns about the long-term effects that remote learning are having on the ability of young students to achieve optimal academic results. There is an emotional and social toll as well. Students who learn exclusively at home without a classroom component are missing out on the in-person connections with teachers and other students that make traditional schooling so worthwhile. Parents, too, are suffering from stress and anxiety as they strive to help students maximize their learning experiences via computer screen.

Teachers can play an important role in relieving the stress, anxiety, and social isolation of remote learning by helping students and their parents strive for a more optimistic outlook of the online learning experience. There is scientific evidence to suggest that such an outlook can have a positive impact on learning. Neuroscientists recently discovered that optimism is associated with brain pathways connecting the left prefrontal region to the amygdala. Further research has demonstrated that optimism, traditionally considered to be an unchangeable trait, is a way of thinking that can be learned and enhanced.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Nutrition Tips for Busy Educators in the Age of COVID-19

Today, more than ever, good nutrition is essential to staying healthy. Eating a well-balanced diet has been proven to boost our immune system, which is a critical defense in guarding against the most devastating impacts of COVID-19.

Maintaining a healthy weight, limiting our sugar intake, eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoiding processed foods are among the ways we can fortify our immune system and protect ourselves against illness—not only from COVID-19 but also from such long-term health conditions as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. See the recommendations for the Healthy Eating Plate from the Harvard School of Public Health for a more complete look at what constitutes a daily nutritious diet.