5 Tips to Boost Your Child’s Working Memory

A guest post by Danish Wadhwa

Does your kid face any difficulty remembering a topic while he is doing something else?

For example, if he is helping you make soup and suddenly the doorbell rings, does he forget to go back and stir the soup? There is no problem if he forgets sometimes, but if these incidences happen on a daily basis, then he might have a working memory problem.

The term ”working memory” is utilized conversely with short-term memory. In other words the manipulation of information which the short-term memory stores is called working memory. It is a skill that is used by kids to solve mathematical problems or with the tasks following multi-step directions.

Here are the five tips to boost your child’s working memory”

Encourage active reading

Have you ever wondered why sticky notes and highlighters are so important?

Well, one of the reasons is that highlighting, underlining the text, or writing brief notes will help your kid keep relevant information in his mind long enough to answer questions about it. In addition to this, asking questions aloud about the reading material can benefit your kid. Active reading helps improve long-term memory.

Make it multisensory

To help your kid with both his working memory as well as long-term memory, processing the information in as many ways as possible is the key. Try to write down each and every task so your kid can have a look at it. You can also help your kid with tasks that are needed to be completed by tossing a ball back and forth while discussing. Implementing these multisensory strategies can help your kid keep information in mind long enough to use it.

Use visual charts and graphic organizers

One way to encourage your kid is by using visuals at the beginning of assignments. You can either make your own or get help from the internet. Visual supports can help kids reach their goals. Teachers provide successive levels of temporary support to students so they reach high levels of skill acquisition and comprehension that otherwise can’t be achieved without assistance. As soon as those strategies are no longer needed, they are discontinued.

It should be kept in mind that the more your kid practices, the better the results for him. It should also be understood that the working memory is a skill used throughout life and not only when we are children. In simple words, you should let your kid have fun while studying. Even if you think your kid is receiving the Best Tuition Assignments, if it is overburdening, then it they should be reduced. 

Play cards

Playing simple card games such as go fish,  crazy eights, war, Uno, and Old Maid can help kids improve their working memories.  If they are new to the game, then start by playing open-handed, where everyone shows all their cards. To make it more complicated, prompt them by saying, “Use the eye in your mind to take a pretend image of the card and remember it.”

Let your kid teach you

It can be fun to reverse roles and let the kid teach you a skill. Kids love to play the role of a teacher or elder. You should further encourage them to draw pictures, write on boards, and demonstrate concepts to you. Teaching something is often the best way to learn it. 

Final thoughts

The best method is to take a metacognitive approach in which considering how best to remember something is the first step. Apply any of the above techniques to get your kid to improve his or her working memory. 

How to Leave Teaching

A guest post by career coach Eva Wislow

Since you’ve been in the teaching profession for a while, you probably know of this myth: Half of new teachers quit the profession within five years. Fortunately, that “stat” is not really true. According to the latest research, it’s 17% of new teachers that leave the profession.      

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s be real: 17% still is a lot. And if you’re one of the teachers thinking about changing careers, there’s nothing to be ashamed of, and there’s definitely nothing to be scared of. It’s your decision to make.

Still, the transition won’t be easy. You’re accustomed to classroom activities, and there’s hardly any other profession that mimics the connection you make with students. It will be a big shift, and you have to be prepared for it.

We won’t talk about the reasons here. Maybe you’re ready to quit because of the low pay and long hours of work. Maybe this isn’t the ideal profession you thought it would be. Whatever the case is, it’s up to you to make a smooth exit.

How do you leave a teaching profession? How do you make this transition as effortless as possible? Let’s go through some helpful tips.

1   Be Aware of the Choices

When teachers are ready to leave, they have a few options to choose from:

  • A new career
  • A new profession that requires re-training
  • Self-employment
  • Retirement or quitting work for any other reason

Retirement is a different story, and we won’t tackle it in today’s article. We’ll talk about the career paths that people can pursue after leaving the teaching profession. The good news is that such an option is available, but you have to figure out what it will be.                                             

2   New Careers for Teachers: Without the Need for Retraining

Teachers are in high demand, even outside the classroom.

A career in online tutoring, for example, is a nice option if you want to work from home. The online tutoring industry is growing fast. Many of today’s students have difficulties meeting the standards of the educational system. They need assistance in all subjects, so you could use your expertise to help them succeed.

Academic writing is another great career that allows you to benefit from the skills you already have. Roberta Sanchez, part of the writers team at CareersBooster, explains: “When you start working as an academic writer for a reputable service, you’ll get a regular flow of orders, but you can still manage your own time. This is a great alternative for teachers who want to work from home, but it’s also a great way to make extra money while working on re-training for a different profession.”

Teachers already have the soft skills for many other professions, too. They may work in recruitment, counseling services, retail, or any other job based on face-to-face interaction.

3   You Can Opt for Any Other Career If You Get More Training

The Guardian listed five very attractive alternative careers for teachers leaving their jobs:

  • Museum educator
  • Education liaison roles
  • Work for an educational supplier
  • Tutoring
  • Corporate learning and development

Your work as an educational supplier or tutor will hardly require re-training. However, if you want to become a museum educator or corporate trainer, you’ll need some reschooling. These professions are not what your options are limited to. You can pursue any career if you get the needed training. You may even opt for online courses. Coursera gives you tons of opportunities for affordable certification.

Speaking of Coursera, online education is a great career to consider, too. You just need to gain the skills needed to plan, design, and promote an online course. When you’re ready, you can start creating your own educational materials.  

4   Self-Employment Is a Thing to Consider, Too

Many teachers decide to leave their jobs because they want to start their own businesses. Starting a small business is a huge step, but it’s also a wonderful experience.  

But be careful; the adventure may turn into a disaster if you’re not prepared.

  • Did you do your research? Do you know what it takes to start a small business? You need the perfect business plan, one that is realistic but motivating at the same time. You have to know what the competitors are doing. You have to be aware of the laws you’re subjected to. You have to keep all expenses in mind.
  • The world of taxes is quite complicated. You can take some online courses to figure out how accounting works, but it’s always easier to hire an accountant.
  • Are you prepared to get into a career full of risks? Your job as a teacher was relatively secure and predictable. You had a plan and had some control over the course of each day’s events. When you start your own business, the decision-making processes may be more challenging.

Take this last tip into consideration: don’t leave your job as a teacher before you know exactly what you’re going to do. You may work on re-training or develop a business plan over the summer. When you’re absolutely sure that you want to pursue a different career path, go ahead and good luck!                                                                                                                

About the author: Eva Wislow is a career coach and HR expert from Pittsburgh. She is focusing on helping people break down their limits, find a dream job and achieve life and career success. She finds her inspiration in writing and peace of mind through yoga. Follow Eva on Twitter.

Understanding the Process of Learning through the Conscious Competence Model

A guest post by Silvia Woolard

Teachers keep exploring different methods of learning. Not only because they are life-long learners, but also because the best learning methods lead to the ultimate teaching methods.

Today, we’re going to explore a model we’ve all relied on in one way or another. Still, most of us are not even aware of the theory behind that practice, and we haven’t been implementing all stages properly. I’m talking about the conscious competence model, AKA the conscious competence matrix or the conscious competence ladder.

Let’s set terminology aside and focus on what’s really important: how can this model help you become a better teacher?

It all starts with understanding.

Understanding the Conscious Competence Model of Learning

Whenever we’re into the process of learning new skills, we go through different emotions at various stages of the journey.

If, for example, you’re trying to teach your students how to write research papers, they might underestimate the challenge at first. They think it’s enough to go through a few resources and sum up their findings. When they realize what a great research paper should look like, their emotions shift. They get overwhelmed and disheartened. Most of them would love to give up at this stage. They will complain about not having enough time, not having enough experience, and not having enough skills.

If you understand the conscious competence model, you’ll be able to encourage positive emotions and help the students get out of the negative mindset.

This model, initially founded as “four stages of teaching” was established by Martin M. Broadwell back in 1969. Later on, Noel Burch from Gordon Training International developed the theory known as “Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill.”                   

These are the four stages of learning a skill:

1. Unconscious Incompetence

At this point, the students are unskilled, but they are not aware of that fact. Just like when you present them with a new assignment and they assume it’s easy. They are blissfully ignorant of the fact that they don’t have a skill.

If you let them stay in this stage, the results won’t be pretty. They will simply assume they can do it in a day, just like they do with their usual homework assignment. So they will procrastinate and they will fail to deliver.

That’s why you need to move them out of this level. You’ll do that by showcasing the true nature of the challenge and introducing them closely to the type of work they need to do.

How do you do that?

  • Ask specific questions about their skills. If it’s a writing project, for example, ask if they have written something similar before. If it’s a social service project, ask them if they are aware of its goals and challenges.
  • Set objectives! Whenever you push your students to learn new skills, you have to introduce some expectations within a timeline. How will you measure those skills? When will you do that? This shouldn’t scare them away. You should set objectives as incentives that will push them to the next stage of the conscious competence model.

2. Conscious Incompetence

By this stage, the students realize they have to make an effort in order to learn a skill. If we continue with the research paper example, they realize that it will take way more time and way more research than they initially assumed.

This stage will be demoralizing for many of your students. They will lack the motivation to proceed. That’s why you have to push them forward.

  • Rely on affirmations. “No one was born skillful. Everyone can learn! There’s plenty of time by the deadline, so you can do it if you start today. You can do it!” When you approach the process with such a positive attitude, you’ll inspire your students to get out of this stage.
  • Develop a progressive schedule. A goal such as “write a research paper” seems overwhelming. If you break it up in smaller goals, it suddenly seems more achievable. For example, they can start by going through five resources that you’ll provide them. They will take notes. Then, they will extract the most important information. Then, they will develop an outline. These smaller goals are not that overwhelming.

3. Conscious Competence

At the conscious competence stage, the learner realizes they have the skills and knowledge needed for achieving particular goals. As they continue on the journey, they keep gaining more self-confidence.

It’s not the final stage, though. You want to keep your students moving forward!

  • Keep them focused on the progress. Remind them how they started and make them aware of the point they are currently at. Progress is a never-ending process, so you should keep pushing them to get better.
  • Give them opportunities to use the newly-acquired skills. If they wrote a research paper, the implementation of their research and writing skills doesn’t end there. Inspire them to start their own blogs and work on their own research.

4. Unconscious Competence            

At this stage, the students are able to use the new skills without making serious conscious efforts. These skills become part of who they are.

This is the stage when the students need to push themselves towards growth. How can they use this skill to build a successful career? Maybe they can use it for a personal project? Maybe it will be the starting point of the higher education journey? Many people become teachers when they reach this stage. They have skills and knowledge that they are ready to pass on to others.

From Unconscious Incompetence to Unconscious Competence – The Journey to Success

When you understand the emotional conflicts that your students face in different stages of the learning process, you’ll be able to take proper actions to motivate them.

There’s a lot of theory involved in this model, but its practical implementations are immense. You’ve probably noticed these stages before, but maybe you weren’t fully aware of them. Now that you are, it’s time to bring the theory to practice.

My Bio:

Silvia Woolard is a young passionate writer at Superior Papers from Phoenix. In her free time, she writes and works in a field of popular psychology. Feel free to contact Silvia at Twitter.  

Teachers Are Tired of Robert Marzano

If you don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter, you may have missed something revealing. Dr. Robert Marzano tweeted the above and caught hell for it from a lot of teachers. You can read the reactions here, and you should. Not unlike the teacher walkouts of this past school year, they represent a new willingness (maybe even eagerness) of teachers to speak up and push back.

For years, teachers were asked (or, more often, told) to swallow a lot of crap. More and more of us are done eating it.

Robert Marzano has been an outsized part of my professional life for longer than he deserves, but for most of that time, no teacher would dare question him. I’ve sat in countless meetings where teachers were told to do things because Marzano said so. I’ve had to read a number of his books. I’ve sat through his training. My principal uses his system to evaluate me (which, given the above tweet, is more than a little concerning). During all of it, nary a peep of protest was heard. No teacher would raise her hand to say, “But surely you can be a good teacher without writing a learning goal on the board every day, can’t you?”

Blasphemy! The kind of which might just cause your administrator to question how serious you were about improving. So we shut up and nodded our heads, and thanks to our polite acquiescence, Marzano’s influence grew.

Today, for most teachers, Robert Marzano’s name is mud. It didn’t have to be this way. When Marzano’s first books came out, teachers recognized the value of his work. They even appreciated it. Here was a guy who cared enough about educators’ improvement that he had gone out and looked at thousands of education studies, performed some sort of mathematical wizardry hardly any teacher can understand, and then was able to tell us what things worked and what things didn’t. At that point, his heart was in the right place. He was Hattie before Hattie. 

But Marzano got greedy. He wrote more books. He offered professional development. His work was crammed down teachers’ throats by excited administrators, and once that starts happening, it’s no longer enough to provide good information. You better be one of us, lest we question your true motives.

Robert Marzano was not one of us.

There are many reasons Marzano’s tweet touched a lot of raw nerves.

First, those of us who have been in the arena for a while are predisposed to dislike whatever he has to say. Here’s a guy who barely taught, an academic who’d rather read studies written by other academics than remain in the classroom and teach actual kids, who writes books that are only possible because of the labor of other researchers (who at least visit classrooms), and who then has the audacity to tell teachers everything they’re doing wrong and what they should be doing instead. I’m not giving him the benefit of the doubt and neither are a lot of other teachers.

Second, the tweet reveals what most of us suspect: that he’s out of touch. It’s no surprise that a lot of the comments call Marzano out for not being a teacher. That’s a fair criticism. Don’t tell me how to do my job until you’ve demonstrated that you can do it.

Third, we’re sick and tired of being told that students’ failures are our failures. Not only is that frequently wrong, it’s not even desirable. Who wants to live in a world where individuals have no personal responsibility for the course of their lives, where their success or failure is dependent upon others?

Fourth, we’re really sick and tired of being told we’re failures by people who don’t have to courage to do what we do. Pernille Ripp expands on this idea in this article, which hits the nail on the head. Her conclusion sums up teachers’ thoughts nicely:

What Ripp focuses on is the guilt so many teachers feel and how when “experts” make statements like the one Marzano made, it leads teachers to feel like failures. It’s demoralizing, exhausting, and unfair. The fact that such sentiments are more often served up by people outside of the classroom than inside of one makes it particularly galling.  It’s the boxing announcer explaining to his HBO audience that all Tommy Noknuckles needs to do is start pounding his opponent’s body with jabs. It’s Alabama head coach Nick Saban having to put up with second-guessing from a fifty-five-year-old journalist who’s never thrown a football. It’s Lebron James dealing with social media criticism from people who can’t dribble.

It’s the voice of the critic and it reminds me of this:

That’s what teachers, a lot of them anyway, are saying to Robert Marzano and those like him. If you’re so smart, if you know so much, then put down the calculator and get in a classroom. Teach kids. And you know where someone like you –someone who understands exactly how to keep kids engaged — is really needed? In Detroit. In Philly. In D.C. and Baltimore. In a “failing” public school, since, let’s face it, it’s those teachers who have been most harmed by your work.

There may have been a reason to feel sorry for Robert Marzano years ago, when his research was hijacked by state governments and used for a purpose he didn’t originally intend. But Marzano was not some innocent victim. He could have said no. He could have looked into his crystal ball and considered some of the consequences of having teachers evaluated with checklists of 60 items. He could have easily foreseen how that would be received. Maybe he did and just didn’t care.

Regardless, he took the money and therefore deserves to be pilloried when he tweets stupid and insulting things that reveal a complete disconnect from the realities of the professional lives of those who actually have what it takes to teach students instead of sitting in an air-conditioned office in Colorado, reading education studies, and raking in taxpayer money by the bushel. Marzano deserves our anger. But at this point, what he really deserves is to be ignored.