Here’s a funny thing that is happening as I am progressing through my learning this summer. I am seeing parallels across things that I am reading, videos I am watching, and podcasts I am listening to.
I am taking the Student Motivation Course by Dave Stuart Jr. who is taking us through the implementation of 5 key student beliefs for maximized engagement and motivation in our classes. The chapter I am working on right now is all about student belief in belonging and the final lesson speaks about helping students make ‘small, little wins’ to give them confidence as they take on the identity of a successful learner in our classes.
This idea of small little wins is being reiterated by the interviews with and writings of Jordan Peterson, who I have been following. He has this phrase, ”aim low”, and in his interview with Joe Rogan from yesterday, Joe asked him to explain why he keeps saying this. Dr. Peterson explained that you can’t start lifting weights with 300 lbs, you have to start with the smallest you’re capable of and adding just a little more each week. This also integrates with the idea of the ZPD (zone of proximal development) of Vygotzky. You aim low but aim up and you’ll get there with those small little wins so that you can show yourself that you indeed CAN do it. Dave pointed us to this article by James Clear that reinforces the fact that students and people in general, need to settle in with an identity that will help them decide to work on the habits needed for them to be able to see themselves in that role, which for me is for them to identify as persistent learners.
I think that’s why portfolios are such a great idea. They should be implemented from the time a student starts kindergarten with short videos, pictures of the work they produce each quarter and self reflections that get students looking at who they are, who they want to be and who they are becoming along the way. With the proper guidance, they can make those little adjustments that are necessary to stay on track to the identity of being a persistent learner.
I applied this idea in a very small way this year at the beginning when I had students do a lesson about the worst presentation ever (borrowed from Jon Corripo). It taught them about what not to do in a slide presentation. I then had them revisit the previous years’ slide presentations in their Google drive and critique their own work, identifying the things they did most often that were not advised and then laying out what they needed to improve upon for their next slide presentations. As we went through the year I reminded them of the fact that I now expected these principles to be applied in their next Google slides that would be presented to the class and we had much better results by the end of the year.
Making sure to build our lessons in such a way that students are given the guidance to realize that they are taking those small, little steps to achieve those small, little wins, will help them to reinforce their core identities as persistent learners for ‘their future flourishing’, as Dave always makes sure to emphasize is our goal for our students.