As the saying goes, the only thing constant is change.
Though, change is good. It keeps us learning, evolving, and engaged. It makes us resilient, and allows us to handle anything that cross our path. Ultimately, change teaches us how to be successful.
But even so, it isn’t always easy to get on board with. Not when it means spending precious time on a weeknight googling buzzwords, learning the latest classroom trends, and trying to understand what your student is going through at school.
Fear not. We’ve broken down the most noteworthy phrases and concepts you’ll encounter this school year. And for those you’ve already encountered, we’ll give you extra insight and even some positive actions to help your child adjust, and more importantly, find success in 2020.
1. Blended Learning
Chances are your child uses a tablet, phone, or computer at some point during the school day. If that’s because the teacher asks them too, they’re taking part in blended learning.
Blended learning is the combination of the old-school classroom (a teacher lecturing) with a new-school technology twist. It’s based on two main principles:
- Mastery of a topic is more important than the time spent on it.
- Kids work at their own pace.
Part two is where technology makes a difference in blended classrooms. Teachers incorporate tools like Khan Academy, for example, or materials they’ve created. Students work independently, using the technology to drive their own learning. The goal? No one wastes time or mental energy.
So your straight A student can move on to the next topic (and stay engaged) without having to wait for classmates to master previous lessons.
Reinforce it by…
Being aware of the changes in blended learning classrooms. The biggest is the shift from a lecture-based atmosphere to one that’s student led, which might result in a shift in your child’s homework load (most likely less). Question your child about the uses of technology in class and consider supplementing their media diet with educational purposes outside of class.
2. Growth Mindset
How intelligent is your child? If you subscribe to the growth mindset, the answer is as smart as the amount of effort they put in.
Over the last 20 years, a growing amount of research has proven the concept of Brain Plasticity—the idea that even as adults, our brains can grow and shift. The trick is, parents and teachers aren’t always instilling this ideal. We’ve grown up believing intelligence is pre-determined, also called the “Fixed Mindset”.
Studies show students holding a fixed mindset prefer to look smart, and believe a person with talent or intelligence does not need to work hard to do well. When a child is complimented on intelligence (which we’ve all done), it reinforces a “Fixed Mindset”.
So the question comes down to, would you rather your kid look smart and not fail or try hard and learn from failure? While it might be hard to watch your child fail, there is growing evidence supporting the benefits of it.
Reinforce it by…
Praising the process of hard work. Share a positive view of challenges, both in your work and your student’s. Share stories where success was the result of determination and not innate ability.
Compliment effort by telling them you’re proud of how much they’d worked. Doing so, rather than complimenting brilliance, reinforces the growth mindset and the idea perseverance is most important.
The Concept of Grit
Teaching the characteristic of “Grit” is an inherent part of both the growth mindset and SEL (Social Emotional Learning), and is defined by two qualities. In the short-term, it refers to the resilience that helps us bounce back from failure. In the long-term, it’s about being dedicated enough to follow through with the goals we set out for.
Those sound like they could help later in life, right?
3. Flipped Classrooms
The next time you see your child watching YouTube when they’re supposed to be doing homework, don’t be so quick to yell. If their classroom is flipped, that might be the homework (but bonus points for being on top of it)!
The classroom of your day was listening to the teacher talk then going home to read or do a worksheet. In a flipped classroom, it’s the opposite.
What would normally be a lecture is introduced at home, commonly through online videos. The worksheets, projects, and problem-solving tasks are saved for class time. The benefit being a teacher, unstuck from lecturing, with more time to help students one-to-one.
Sound fishy? It’s actually gaining steam. According to research by the Flipped Learning Network, 78 percent of teachers have tried flipping their classroom.
Reinforce it by…
Holding your student accountable for out of class assignments. Flipped classrooms can enforce mastery giving the teacher more “teaching” time, but it’s harder to ensure students do the homework if it’s not being graded. Take the opportunity to play an active role in their at-home learning. Cut out some time to go over the media with them—you can even use it as a bonding experience.
4. Social Emotional Learning
Think of your child at their most receptive. Engaged, curious, and someone who makes life easier on the teacher and helps the learning experience of others. Compared to the not-so-angelic, rambunctious child who comes around other times, who do you think gets more out of learning?
Teachers and schools think so too, and now they are trying to teach it.
What it is
The goal of social-emotional learning is to create curious, thoughtful and self-motivated (even “gritty”) students. Also called “Teaching to Whole Child,” SEL tries to develop self-awareness, impulse control, and the abilities to collaborate and care about oneself and others.
The characteristics of SEL aren’t always obvious, and as such might not sound familiar. That’s because it’s reflected more on how things are taught then what’s being taught. In ELA, it could be an emphasis on identifying emotions in text. In Math, it might involve teaching mindfulness of frustration as a way to persevere through it.
It could also be the emphasis of community service or extracurricular activities.
Reinforce it by…
Leading by example. Your children are going to model the habits you show in relationships and dealing with others. In addition, guide their independence by allowing them to make age-appropriate choices and letting them take on responsibilities to build self-esteem.
Just as your child has been forced to do, embrace the change. It’s a positive journey and you can go through it with them. Relating to that is only going to strengthen how you interact with them.