A Review of Ian Kelleher, Chris Hulleman’s The Science of Keeping Kids Engaged—Even From Home” by Sayyad Hassan Naqavi
Key words: distance learning, educational mindset, educational mentality, students, sense of belonging, key environmental stimuli, theory of motivation, academic problems, internet connectivity barriers
If you are a friendly principal of a school and have a very lively teaching staff who are teaching your students online, this is what they will tell you for sure; the children are losing their motivation and engagement. The lock downs around the globe are leaving only a forlorn hope for a quick recovery of the situation. Meanwhile, let us talk about some tactics that can make a huge difference in enhancing our valuable teaching staff to eradicate the problems of such sort and teach online with a sense of comfort and peace. Therefore, in this short article, the teachers are going to familiarize with factors that affect the students’ performance and then the remedies such as school environment versus home environment, importance of extracurricular engagement and the lack of feedback and evaluation in online teaching environment.
The upcoming school year will be full of doubts, but the need to keep students active and work from home is something we have no doubt about. Fortunately, there are ways to motivate this. The sudden and unplanned move to e-learning, which began last spring, was a stumbling block to the school year that halted curricula, ended extracurricular activities, and cut exams and feedback loops in most schools. It was anticipation that shattered students’ motivation. As one student puts it, an online school is “just like a face-to-face school, except that all its charms have been removed!”
Without social interaction, which is a valuable part of a normal day at school, and without individual guidance from teachers, educators, and counselors, many of the key motivational stimuli are suddenly gone. In many schools, distance learning programs are not yet fully established. Certainly, in the first days and weeks of distance education, fundamental problems and inaccuracies will be revealed, such as families who do not have an Internet connection or do not have a strong Internet, students who do not have a quiet place to study, brothers and sisters who have to take care of their younger siblings or They need to work to support the family. All of this, along with other problems, has created levels of stress.
Of course, the shift to online education has, in a short period of time, revealed some of the flaws in our old structure in response, evaluation, and measurement methods. We are not worried about students who are inherently motivated, but we should design a program for students who are not, with the best of intentions.
It should be noted that motivating students in the manner of sticks and carrots – for example, with the endless and frustrating cycle of difficult exams – does not, as we would like, contribute to in-depth teaching and interest in learning.
Fortunately, there are scientific methods for motivating, and we need to design programs tailored to these methods for our virtual classes. There is now an urgent need to do this to help students face the challenges of distance learning and to avoid widening the gaps in educational opportunities that result from the injustice of the education system.
Two-step approach to motivation
You may have heard of the great theories of motivation that researchers talk about, such as the theory of autonomy and the theory of expectation-value. We will talk about these in the second article, which will be published soon. We believe that educational thinking or the educational mentality is a good starting point that we can understand and implement it quickly in the classroom. Educational mentality refers to the beliefs that students have about themselves, their capacities and their educational backgrounds. Once we are well versed in the educational mindset, then we can take the next step and understand the underlying layers of motivation and understand how it can be used to make fundamental structural improvements in schools.
Researchers talk about three types of educational mindsets. Sense of belonging, purpose and connection, mentality of growth and progress. If we want to motivate people, we have to start here. You may be familiar with some of these educational mindsets, but these mindsets are often misunderstood and misused in schools.
Creating a sense of belonging
Make students feel that their voices are being heard: Count the activities, topics, and examples that students are familiar with so that students feel that it is natural for them to be present in class every day with their true selves and as they are. Strive to eliminate identity threats. Every child has the right to feel seen, heard, respected, and his or her unique story is part of the larger story in the classroom.
For example, you can set up a special ceremony at the beginning of your class in which each student speaks and each hears their own name from someone else. Practice the Tight Fish Conversation method online and encourage students to “talk from their point of view.” Establish classroom rules and regulations with your students, upload them to the first page of each lesson in your educational management system, and review these rules regularly and periodically. Ask each student to share their preferences with others instead of speculating.
Reduce Internet connection barriers. Let students know that there is an easy way to communicate outside the classroom and that you and others will welcome it. You can manage expectations by telling them you respond quickly to their messages. Be clear about your expectations of the class and know that it is important to be creative in getting to know students and finding solutions to the emotional and academic problems that students are dealing with. For example, you can schedule courses and make phone or video calls to each student, or suggest that they call or text you directly if they wish.
Remind yourself that communication time with students is as important as teaching time. If you are teaching online, deliberately spend some of your valuable time in group communication. For example, start the class with group rituals, try a short mental exercise, supervise an online course before class begins, or form small chat groups where you can chat non-simultaneously. This is not a waste of class time, but an investment to help students get motivated and ready for their long-term plan.
Relate the activities to the goals of the goals and the relevance to them
Try to break the goals into smaller goals. Teachers often underestimate the importance of goals and the relevance of an activity to achieving that goal in motivation, and instead exaggerate what they have done to make the goals clear. Regularly and deliberately state the goals behind homework and classroom activities, especially now that you are away from your students.
Give students the right to choose. Adding a limited number of carefully selected options to a topic can be a great way to increase motivation in distance learning. By doing this, students feel that while they are learning new things, their choice is strengthened and empowered. Be aware, however, that being overly selective can lead to “decision erosion.” Examples of such activities: Choose one of these four articles. Choose a famous leader and study his life for your project. Present your class research in the form of a podcast, children’s book, 2-3 minute video, artwork, or essay.
Explain how learning is. Start by talking to your students. Tell them that learning is hard, but it will become easier over time if you use study strategies. Talk to them about nerve resilience and the fact that strenuous activity over time causes the nerve fibers in their brain to regenerate. Teach them effective study strategies. Students should benefit from study strategies and methods. Techniques such as parsing key concepts and retelling them in their own language, actively retrieving and practicing at intervals in retelling content and marking points. You should teach these techniques over time so that students have the opportunity to practice and correct them. In distance education, this is especially important because students are more alone and need such strategies for personal discipline.
Help them not to be trapped at home. Explain this fact very clearly to the students that they will stay at home for a while, so they need to find tactics to get out of the house. Have you been able to create a classroom space where children can easily ask their classmates for help? Or have you considered setting up small study groups so that children can better communicate with each other? Have you shown your students easy ways to contact you during business hours? Or have you even insisted that they call you when they are at home? Have you created a useful list of classroom resources and instruction in your education system that is easily accessible?
Use technology to create an intimate environment. Take tests that are educational and whose grades do not affect students’ final grades. Provide repetitive but non-scoring exercises that are effective in learning the lesson and come in assessments. Modify these assessment tests and use them as part of the learning process to help students see them as a useful tool for evaluating themselves and the effectiveness of their learning strategies, and see what they need to do next.
Finally, do not confuse tests that aim to teach rather than assessment with a comfortable test. If students are challenged, they will both work harder and learn more. Take time in each class to review the wrong answers they give and give it a chance to learn from the mistakes.
Reviewed by Sayyad Hassan Naqavi