from ancestors who chose to come to this country and chose to be frugal in
order to delay the gratification of success. So in the classroom, I made sure I
offered choices at every turn. I was well aware of self-efficacy (one's belief in
one's ability to succeed in specific situations) through educational studies and I
was well aware of the elevation of enthusiasm and confidence when observing
risk-free opportunities that yield exceptional results. Because reading and math
were individually assigned in our school, it was easy to offer choices and options
beyond high standards. (The sky’s the limit!).
Jess, My Mess, was short in stature but big in action. I wasn’t surprised. First-born children are often high achievers. They compare themselves to their parents without recognition of the huge gap in age and stature. Jess had a big personality, big ideas, and was big in accomplishments. So when he came to school one day and asked permission to do nothing but math, I agreed to his request. His choice was to do as many lessons as possible and he did surpass the average. He completed and corrected two week’s worth of work: 11 lessons with 22 pages of math concepts, problems, and tests. Because he was already three years ahead of his traditional age group, he felt confident. (It was that self-efficacy working again).
Choice is powerful. It strengthens both the affective (emotional) and cognitive (knowledge) domains.
“I don’t think I want to do that again, Ms. Mac.” Jess said with shoulders in a
“Do what?” I responded.
“Math- all day long.” he said.
“Jess, I believe you experienced what is called ‘burn-out’,” I said, steering the conversation to a discussion on pacing and realistic goal-setting.
With newly acquired wisdom, Jess modified his pace which still remained faster than most. Years after he left me I learned that he had won an "Algebra Award" in Junior High school even though he was much younger than his classmates. He finished all required math courses ahead of the high school timeline and advanced early into college credit.
Choice is powerful. It strengthens both the affective (emotional) and cognitive (knowledge) domains. MRI studies show a more active and coordinated brain when an individual is weighing options. A higher emotional buy-in occurs while making choices, so logically alertness is heightened. Evaluation, which is an intricate part of choosing, addresses the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy and justifies the process. How we use our power of choice defines us... it defined Jess… even if he will be forever in my heart, ‘My Mess’!
THE LESSON LEARNED:
Choice and elevated options should be the mantra of education. Teaching our children to make wise choices includes allowing them to experience failure at times—something particularly hard for caring parents and teachers to swallow in this highly competitive world. Goal-setting, self-evaluation, and re-organizing help empower students with realistic responsibility.
LENGTHEN THE LESSON:
ScienceDaily (Mar. 24, 2009) Brain Activity Predicts People's Choices
Educational Psychologist, 28 (2) 117-148 Perceived Self-Efficacy In Cognitve Development and Functioning http://www.centerforefficacyandresiliency.org/assets/docs/
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