The U.S. public school system was originally established to educate America’s youth.
More specifically, it was created to teach children basic skills and to help make them into productive citizens. Fast forward to now, and it is a plan to see that the U.S. education system is failing to live up to its original intent.
Unfortunately, some of the traditional methods of educating students are no longer applicable. Some modern students never get engaged through conventional learning. Even more, higher enrollments make it difficult for schools to manage students.
This ultimately drops the educational standards and never encourages students to showcase their talents. Often times, it becomes hard to cope with modern challenges. Many school leaders and educators seemingly aren’t even aware of the challenges in the education sector, certainly not the bureaucrats in Washington who have never worked in a public school classroom or taught English, math, social studies, and science courses anywhere.
Perhaps that is why seasoned educators in Raleigh County and beyond turn to technology to help both teachers and students to manage and master educational skills for the future, while confronting today’s greatest challenges in the system.
Ronald Cantley II, retired principal and lifelong educator, lauded Raleigh County recently for its vision in bringing the latest in technology, including lap tops, to students throughout the county.
“I think our county is among the top in providing quality education throughout the state,” he said. “If you look at what Woodrow Wilson High School (WWHS) has accomplished under the leadership of Ryan Stafford during the past few years, you will note that an educational machine is thriving in the work of student achievement and teacher work ethics. The school has become a showpiece for educators in Southern West Virginia.”
The current education system in Raleigh County enables youth to prepare for the future in a variety of approaches, including time on task, repetition of skill sets, and critical thinking exercises that offer students an opportunity to discuss their views and opinions among their peers.
Based on research findings, we know that student motivation depends on the extent to which they are able to:
- Feel in control of their learning;
- Feel competent; and
- Feel connected with others.
Being in control of their learning means having significant input into the selection of learning goals and activities procedures.
Fortunately, research suggests that students feel some ownership of a decision if they agree with it, and whenever possible, students are able to choose their own learning goals, select learning activities and assignments, and decide whether to work in groups.
Allowing students to select partners to work in groups and giving them choices among appropriate alternatives work well as classroom strategies.
While some students seem naturally enthusiastic about learning, many need and expect their instructors to inspire, challenge, and stimulate them in the process.
Unfortunately, there is no single formula for motivating students, research studies show. Many factors seem to affect a given student’s motivation to work and to learn. Interest in the subject matter, perception of its usefulness, general desire to achieve, self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as patience and persistence. Some will even be motivated by the approval of others, some by overcoming challenges.
Meanwhile, best practices suggests teachers encourage students to become self-motivated, independent learners, by:
- Giving frequent, early, positive feedback that supports students’ beliefs that they can do well;
- Ensuring opportunities for students’ success by assessing tasks that are neither too easy nor too difficult;
- Helping students find personal meaning and value in the material;
- Creating an atmosphere that is open and positive;
- Helping students feel that they are valued and members of a learning community.
Research has shown that good, everyday teaching practices can do more to counter student apathy than special efforts to attack motivation directly. Most students respond positively to a well-organized course taught by an enthusiastic instructor who has a genuine interest in students and what they learn.
Thus, activities one undertakes to promote learning will also enhance students’ motivation.
“There is a distinctive relationship between a teacher’s conduct and the students’ learning ability,” according to veteran educator Cantley. “Therefore, teachers need to encourage and promote their students’ success with positive feedback as often as possible.
The former WWHS principal continued, “Teachers need to inspire success by praising and reassuring their charges for high achievement, showing students respect, holding high expectations for all students, avoiding negative comments and sarcasm, offering extra help whenever needed, and taking an active interest in students’ lives. This informal motivation helps establish a warm and caring classroom environment where students feel they can succeed.”
Top o’ the morning!