Teaching Tips for “At Risk” Students

So, I’ve recently fallen in love (metaphorically) with the witty “bro” millionaire writings of Ramit Sethi. And, along with being funny at times, Sethi has some great free products that will teach you a lot about getting started in entrepreneurship, much of which is incredibly astute. I’m talking Stanford University *ahem, my alma mater, ahem* astute. And, oddly, applicable to education.

It occurred to me this morning, as I was reading some of his book on my kindle that a lot of the psychology he applies to making sales applies equally to teaching a class.

Follow these rules when selling a product or service (or day of education):

1. Do not rely on pure information to sell folks on the value of what you’re selling. Rely on RELATIONSHIPS and PERSONAL CONNECTION. It doesn’t matter whether or not your class will help them pass [insert standardized test here]. It matters that you connect with them on a personal level. Heard the description, “she could sell water to a drowning man?” That’s what teachers need to do.


2. Baby steps, my friend, Baby steps. Just like with dog training, baby training, or any kind of training, students learn best through praised baby steps. Priase ’em for walking in the door. Praise ’em for turning in a HW assignment. Praise ’em for apologizing. Praise ’em for farting outside the classroom. Praise ’em for sitting in their seats the whole class. Praise, Praise, Praise! Start out praising the small stuff. When they have all (or mostly all) gotten the small stuff, move on to the bigger stuff, then praise them for that!

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3. Praise feels sooo gooooooooood. It sounds so silly, but, recently, when I took an entry-level French language course at Alliance Francaise, I felt a bit of ABSOLUTE JOY when the teacher told me my answer was right. I was a grown woman in my 30s, and I knew my answer was right, but it was still a huge rush when my teacher told me so. Imagine being a teenager! Double the rush! Triple the rush!

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Remember: your students are human. When they seem difficult–chances are that they are just acting like all the other humans act when they are forced to do something they don’t want to do!

And that’s when you have to become a salesperson. 


More Visualizing for the Time-Challenged, Modern Edition

Many of the AHA! moments I have in the study of history is the realization of just how many different things I’ve studied are actually happening at the same time. Like, for instance, how when Johann Sebastien Bach was dying in 1750 in Europe, soon-to-be-Americans were getting angrier and angrier at their British motherland for  abusing them in various ways. Unfortunately, in a world where we have to test

screenshot of Timeline of History page
screenshot of Timeline of History

students on a wide variety of facts in history, it’s hard to show how many different interconnected events are all happening at once, all affecting one another. Think of all the structure inherent in the music of Bach, all the structure and control, and how much became so much more free after he died. Meanwhile, in the colonies, the not-yet-Americans,  are throwing off a system of intense structure and dominance to become, for a time, pretty chaotic! CONNECTION!

That’s why this site, Timeline of History, is great, at least for the 20th and 21st centuries. Check it out.

Visualizing Time for the Time-Challenged

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 7.28.54 PM Teaching history is difficult, particularly when the people you are teaching see no real discernible difference between the era that is “the Seventies” and the era that is “the Renaissance.” As with many folks under 20 years old, the key to understanding periods of history and patterns in history AND science is to have a strong sense of TIME.

That’s why this site, here is today, is great. Check it out. Just keep clicking OKAY+