I've been thinking a lot lately about ways we give our students freedom and autonomy in the classroom while also making sure they learn the skills and content we need them to learn to be successful in our classes. Sometimes it takes some classroom Jedi mind tricks to accomplish our goals.
I have a few Jedi mind tricks I use with my students. One of my favorites is assigning mandatory time with me for any incomplete assignments. Not only do I already hold office hours or have planning time set aside (so, in the end, I'm not losing my own time), but this gives students time and space to come get help. It also helps me build relationships with students who may be struggling in my classes.
Another example I use is allowing mastery on assignments. I'll allow students to do an assignment as many times as they want until they achieve their desired grade. For some that might be an A, for others a B, and so on. I do give time limits on this process, however, because I do not want students trying to rewrite or redo assignments at the eleventh hour at the end of the semester. That would overwhelm me. But, ultimately, I want my students to master the content, and giving them as many times as they need to show their learning on an assignment benefits them. There are a number of ways for implementing mastery learning, and this is just one example. You can read more about mastery learning and its origins as well as tips for mastery learning.
What kind of Jedi mind tricks do you use with your students? I love this Vitae forum thread with a lot of instructors sharing their tips. Feel free to share yours in the comments below!
Education is a social process. Education is growth. Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself. John Dewey
Julie K. Marsh is a long-time educator, a PhD candidate at The College of William and Mary focusing on curriculum and educational technology, and the Coordinator for Distance Education and Instructional Design at Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing in Richmond, Virginia. Her current research interests include Design Thinking, Community of Inquiry, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), creativity in the classroom, open sourced educational resources, and participatory culture.
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