Finding #6: Students need to be taught how to fail & recover from it.
Despite Ericsson's findings discussed early on in this post, talent does matter and it is important to teach students to recover from failure because those are the moments when they learn the most.
A 2014 study by Brooke Macnamara analyzed 88 studies to determine how talent factored into deliberate practice.
Her findings show what we (as teachers) already know, students may require different amounts of practice to reach the same skill level…but how do we keep those struggling students from keeping up?
Growth mindset research gives us some insight into some ways to support and encourage these students when it comes to math problem-solving and includes harnessing the power of failure through “yet”.
You might not be able to do something yet, but if you keep trying you will. This opens the door for multiple practice opportunities where students learn from each one along the way.
And what about the advanced students?
Many of these students have not experienced failure, but when it comes to complex word problems they may have met their match.
To support these students, who may be experiencing their first true challenge, we need to have high standards and provide constructive, supportive feedback on how to grow.
Then we need to give them space to try again.
There is a great power in allowing students to revise and try again, but many times our grading system discourages being comfortable with failure.
Building the confidence to fail in your classroom
Many students feel the pressure to always have the right answer. Giving students the opportunity to fail safely means you can help them learn from these failures so they don't make the same mistake twice.
Here's how you can safely foster growth through failure in your classroom:
- Build in time to analyze errors & reflect.
- Reward effort & growth as much as, if not more than, accuracy.
- At least initially, skip the grading so students aren't afraid to be wrong.
Getting started with brain-based problem solving
The brain research is clear.
Spending 45 minutes focused on a sheet of word problems that all follow the same format isn't the answer.
By implementing this research, you can actually save yourself time and the frustration that comes from a disengaged class.
I've created my Daily Problem Solving bundles based on this research to save you time.You can get each month separately or buy the full year bundle at major discount.
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