Engaging Every Student
February 27, 2020
Anticipating the Awesome in Every Student
Pear Deck Team
The Pear Deck Teaching Truths are a set of principles that we believe in and have designed to guide you in building positive school culture where teachers can create powerful learning moments for every student, every day. The truths are rooted in our own experiences as educators and school leaders and backed by pedagogical research.
Today we focus on Anticipating Awesome. As we explained in our Teaching Truths introduction post:
Students not only do better in school when they feel like an important and valued member of their school community, they do better in life. There is such a deep power that comes from the feeling of someone at your back, from knowing that the peers and adults you see every day care about you, and have confidence in you. It’s so powerful that even one sentence from one adult can live with you for 20 years. Let’s show each and every student that we want them there, that we expect great things from them, and that we see them.
When we Anticipate Awesome, we step away from the preconceptions and biases that can color our perception of each other and our students. When we challenge ourselves to truly see what our students are capable of and raise the bar on their own sense of potential, we Anticipate Awesome, and that can make all the difference in the world.
How can you use Pear Deck to Anticipate Awesome in your classroom? Here are some examples!
Get to know your students better and help them know each other better with our “Building Community” Templates. There are a number of benefits to this practice:
- When you show curiosity about students’ interests and skills, it builds trust and helps students feel they matter to you.
- When those interests are shared with other classmates, they begin to know each other—to know who to ask about what topics, to know who to praise and to support when needed. Again, this shows students that they matter —not only to you, but to their peers. (This also supports Cultivating Compassion, which we’ll address in a future post).
- Finally, when you know their strengths and interests, you’ll be more adept at creating assignments that draw out different students.
The beginning of each class is an excellent time to Anticipate Awesome and set out with great expectations for each student. With each new class, we have a fresh chance to set the atmosphere, make it welcoming, and create the conditions for students to shine.
Before students arrive, put your Pear Deck Bell Ringer on the board.
Now, you are freed up to greet students at the door, and students can see exactly what they need to do. In this way, you help students transition out of hectic hallway time into calm classroom time. You also get them engaged right away and give each of them space to think and answer on their own.
Putting quiet students on the spot can generate unhelpful stress, but at the same time, we don’t want to focus only on the outgoing students. Showing student responses on the projector screen is a great way to include every student in a way that is comfortable to them and draws out each student’s thinking. As one teacher put it:
“The anonymous responses on the board allow students to be forthcoming while also feeling that what they write matters.”
You can take this a step further by curating the responses you show to highlight exemplars from students who don’t normally speak up. On the Teacher Dashboard, click the Star next to any response you’d like to highlight. Try to find responses from quieter students; when they see their responses on the board, it builds their confidence in their knowledge and abilities.
When you turn on Classroom Climate, your students get an automatic mood check-in at the beginning of every Pear Deck lesson. This is a lightweight survey that lets you see very quickly if a student’s mood might be a barrier to a successful lesson. When you use Pear Deck frequently, you will become familiar with mood trends and can notice if a student’s mood suddenly makes a drastic shift. These little touchpoints of information give you the insight to check in—or intervene, when necessary—and, along the way, shows students you’re paying attention and care about them beyond their quiz grades.
Every student learns differently and needs a different amount of time to process a question. In the time constraints of a lesson, it’s super tempting to ask students a question and call on the first hand. This may keep certain students from even trying to answer the question, knowing that someone else will beat them to the punch. The learning benefits of recalling information, therefore, only go to the small subset of students who thrive in that fast-paced environment.
When you ask a question through Pear Deck (whether it’s a check for understanding or a deeper open-ended question), you can set the Lock Timer. A timer will start to count down, showing students that they have time to fully think and respond. This ensures that every student has not only the opportunity, but the clear expectation, to answer for themselves. You aren’t ignoring shy students or students who process slowly; you want to hear from them all.
School can be an overwhelming and stressful place for many of our students; whether it’s the overstimulation of so many bodies and voices, or the fear of messing up in class and being wrong, our students have lots of reasons to shut down. But we have tools in our toolbox to help. By showing students we see them for who they are, and that we know they can do great things, we build their confidence and give them a reason to really show up. These Pear Deck tools help you bake that intentionality into every lesson, whether you are doing direct instruction, a hands-on lab, or independent work. So no matter what you’re teaching, Anticipate the Awesome in each student.
Illustration by Kate Moore.
Pear Deck Team
Helping teachers deliver powerful learning moments
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