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We are Shelburne Middle School in Staunton, Virginia, and we implemented the Brainology program with our entire 6th grade. The challenge we were looking to address with Brainology was the fixed mindset with which too many students enter 6th grade. It's tragic that by the tender age of 11, many have decided that past failures have locked them into a life of continuous failure and limited success in school. We hoped that this program would help to change that. We also wanted our 6th graders to have a more positive outlook that would help them in the rest of their educational careers, as well as in their social, physical, and emotional development. We were excited to see that it would support what we had previously been trying to teach our students about the importance of effort, how the brain works, and what constitutes good study habits. We loved the fact that Brainology educated our students about how the brain is an organ that can grow, and that intelligence is not fixed.
Despite our best efforts as educators and parents, many students still underperform or struggle academically. Most teachers observe that their students would succeed if only they would invest more effort in their work. In some cases, we see a grave lack of student engagement leading to classroom management challenges, low student achievement, and high drop-out rates.
While some studies cite boredom and disinterest as the cause of these problems, perhaps they are actually symptoms of a broader issue: lack of motivation. Numerous studies have shown that, as student motivation goes up, so do effort and student achievement, in both short and long term situations. In addition, attention, which is a scarce resource in most classrooms, has also been proven to increase with kids’ motivation levels. As we empower students to increase their own ability to focus and apply effort, we witness them becoming better able to process relevant information, which impacts their ability to succeed academically. This, in turn, will set the foundation for an intrinsic love of learning, by teaching students to value their own progress and growth.
Here are three techniques you can use to increase students' motivation:
Music Director, Julie Ahlborn is putting growth mindset into action!
At Reagan Academy middle school in Springville, UT, her students enter her orchestra class with only a cursory knowledge of sight reading music. She wanted them to see how much they grow in one year so that they will be motivated to continue their music studies, becoming lifelong musicians.
Jill Balzer, Principal at Charles Patterson Middle School in Killeen, TX, on how Mindset transformed their school culture
Charles Patterson Middle School is located in Killeen, Texas which is also home to one of the largest military institutions in the world, Fort Hood. Our student population is diverse; 44% are Active Military, 40% are economically disadvantaged, 38% are African American, 31% White, 27% Hispanic, and 4% Asian/Pacific Islander. The wide array of social, cultural, and economic backgrounds provides the students and teachers at CPMS with unique opportunities. With this variety in life experiences and an annual mobility rate of over 40% comes the constant search by our staff to look for ways to improve the quality of our students’ lives. We believe that this is best accomplished by giving them tools that they will be able to take with them wherever they may go.
How did a public school increase their number of honor roll students by 15% in one year? In our August newsletter, Charles Patterson Middle School Principal Jill Balzer shared how her students had achieved significant improvements in test scores and academic abilities following the school-wide adoption of mindset practices and the implementation of the Brainology program.
Last month, Jill and her school were recognized by the Texas School Business Bragging Rights publication for the improvements they’ve made, which Jill attributes to their creation of a Growth Mindset school culture. Each year, this publication, which has over 25,000 readers, receives nominations from hundreds of schools so this is a great achievement. Please join us as we congratulate Jill Balzer and her teachers, staff and students for their hard work!