Ask the Experts: Getting Back into a School Mindset

Written By the Kurzweil Blog Team

                     You may not realize it, but there’s a lot of knowledge sharing that occurs each day between the Kurzweil Education team and educators across the globe. Wouldn’t it be great if we could share these insights with everyone? We think so. Each month we’ll publish answers to your questions in a blog. Do you have a question?

Question: What’s your favorite trick for getting students back into a school mindset?

Mary Hinson, International trainer and consultant, Owner of Equal Access

I’m always so excited when my students return. Share your passion. Students want to feel like they matter and are important to their teachers. Initial activities need to be fun, engaging and easy to complete. They need to be successful. It will make the students want to come back.

Karen Narvol, Assistive Technology Consultant, Kurzweil Education Trainer

A way to get students into a school mindset is to ask them to describe their positive attributes: positive qualities, competencies, and characteristics. They can do this by journal writing or pair-share, small group discussion, or whole class discussion. Ask students to think about their strengths and the resources that will help them succeed.

Dan Herlihy, Private Consultant, Author, Keynote Speaker, Kurzweil Education Trainer

Show the students you have respect for their education by being current on tools for access, tools for learning, an engaging curriculum, and allowing them to use the tools! Using an iPad only for free time for example pretty much lets them know that a tool that could allow them to expand their horizons is only viewed as a toy by their educators. Success from the start encourages a student to believe they can, and providing an accessible environment where everyone can succeed demonstrates that everyone matters, not just those at the top. Students know when they matter for who they are and what they are capable of accomplishing, and are quick to surmise their chances of success in the classroom when the start of the new year either looks like a continuation of the past where they may have met with frustration and failure, or truly a fresh start where they can now envision success.

Eric Nentrup, eLearning Coach, Speaker, Writer, Google Educator

What’s a “school mindset”? But seriously ... there are some competing paradigms here. In a traditional school or district, I think what matters most in the early days of the semester is trust-building. And the only way there is through countless acts of demonstrating for and in front of your students that you respect them (by not patronizing them), that you care about what they care about (this builds culture and gives a teacher scads of opportunities for making curriculum relevant to their interests), and that you’re the most sane adult in their lives. I’m not kidding about that last part. There’s a very strong likelihood that a teacher is the most regular adult in a child’s weekly routine. That’s a tall order for the job of teacher and it isn’t intended to be a replacement for a parent, but if we’re being honest about how we spend our quality time in our given culture, it’s at least 51% true.

In a more progressive learning community, I think that it’s not about a school mindset at all, but in developing an aptitude for self-guided inquiry. This entails a reimagining of the teacher’s job description, but in my vision (and how someday I’d prefer to return to the classroom) it means more one-on-one interactions with students, shepherding their pursuit of meaningful work through my own dedication as a practitioner of the content areas in which I’m licensed. It also means working to continue to stay current on what research reveals about how we learn as humans—at different levels—and how I adroitly fashion instructional regimens for my students from my repertoire of activities, the modeling of my own inquiry, and the networking both within my immediate learning community (both fellow students and fellow teachers).

Our technology and understanding of what education can look like is ready. It’s just our institutional or industrialized commitment to what school is that keep us playing school. But the new paradigm is creeping in and it’s going to be far more attractive to folks wanting to work in the profession let alone the impact it will have on students leaving K-12 and headed into college or career.

Suzanne Feit, National Consultant, Kurzweil Education Trainer

Use the tool to teach the tool, such as engaging in writing assignments that are relevant to them or editing fun essays. Here are four examples using Kurzweil 3000:

  • Implement a Study Skills reading assignment and ask each student to explain their suggestions in writing.
  • Show a fun movie and use one of the writing templates to brainstorm and discuss the movie’s story, characters or ending. The Compare/Contrast or Retelling templates are two examples of possible templates to use. Teachers should model for the whole class and then let students do their own analysis.
  • Ask students to bring in an article from the newspaper or a favorite web site and have the students use Kurzweil 3000 to find better words to place in the articles using the synonym tool or the Academic Vocabulary Lists!
  • Have students work in small groups and using the Brainstorming template, have them develop a thematic story or report.

It’s Your Turn! Leave a Comment

Share your favorite trick or approach for easing learners into the new school year. Scroll to the bottom of the page and add a comment.

What questions can you ask the experts?

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