Wednesday, April 10, 2013

L&B NYC: Ben Bernstein

L&B 2013 NYC Ben Bernstein - Performance Anxiety and How to Reduce It Books: Test Success! How to Be Calm, Confident & Focused on Any Test and Teen Success! How to Be Calm, Confident & Focused The importance of context is so vital in terms of positive outcome. Viola Spolin: Improvisation for the Theater. The first 40 pages should be a stand-alone text for all teachers. The Yerkes-Dodson Curve of performance vs. stress Everyone needs to know about this curve. Perhaps especially teachers and coaches. What is performance? preparation + spontaneity = presence Presence is something we need to teach in schools. The ability to access what you have learned (preparation) and then use it in novel ways (spontaneity) For example, cooking, sports, and sex all require this combination What is stress? Stress is a function of disconnection Rather than pointing fingers, we need to look inside to see our reactions to stressors. How do we respond to them? "Separation is an optical delusion" Einstein Dalai Lama: When we experience stress, we are disconnecting from the whole in some way. We are like a three-legged stool. The three legs are Spirit, Body, and Mond. All legs need to be balanced and functioning or we will be destabilized. Spirit: Focused Body: Calm Mind: Confident Awareness and tools. You must be able to be aware of when you are out of balance and use tools to come back into balance Personalizing Download the Performance Inventory from his site. Fill it out for a stressful performance situation. Total scores and fill in your "stool" at the bottom Tools Staying Focused What is focus? Having a goal and taking actions that get you to the goal What is your goal? What are your distractions? Visualize the goal. Take action toward your goal. Visualize the distraction. Stop the distraction. Ask, "Is this taking me to my goal?" Listen to the voice that's going to give you specific direction to get you back on track. Fulfill the direction of the voice. To reduce stress: 1. Cultivate your awareness of disconnection. 2. Use the following core tools to reconnect. Focus Stop and ask, "Is this distraction taking me to my goal? Listen to your inner voice for the next step. Fulfill your purpose. Get yourself back on track. If the spirit is not engaged, you are starting off on the wrong footing.  If you see distraction in yourself and others, find out why.  The goals have to be our own. For our students, we have to find a way to connect what we need them to do with what they want to do. Confidence Confide in your confidant. Let go of the negativity. Reflect back something accurate and positive. Envision taking small, manageable steps. This relates to all of those negative thoughts that creep in. They make us feel disconnected because we feel like we're "the only one" that's bad at something. We must confide in someone - a friend, a parent, a teacher, or even the imagined "best version" of ourselves - who can then encourage us. Calm Breathe deeply down to your belly. Ground yourself. Feel the floor. Release tension. Sense your surroundings through your five senses. Disconnected from our bodies and our environment. Must re-establish that connection through mindfulness. We need to do all of this, too. We need to be more "with" our students.

L&B NYC: Paul Tough

L&B 2013 NYC Paul Tough - Beyond Smart: How Grit, Curiosity, and Character Help Students Succeed and Thrive The cognitive hypothesis - the idea we're all working around with that IQ is really what matters for success. But new research shows that things like grit, conscientiousness, self-control, etc. matter at least as much. Non-cognitive functions. Nadine Burke Harris - stress ( What was really making her young patients sick was the stress, violence, noise and chaos that surrounded them every day. She often felt like a battlefield surgeon rather than a family physician. Adults who experienced significant amounts of trauma have cancer, emphysema, suicide, etc., rates that are twice as high as their counterparts. The stress response system is, in some ways, like a muscle. It needs regular use to develop properly, but this use should be mild and occasional. But if you experience severe and/or lasting trauma, it disables that response and causes severe and lasting problems. There is an antidote to toxic stress: parents. Children who form secure attachment with their parents have a kind of insulation against toxic stress. Seriously significant in study of rats who engage in "licking and grooming" behavior - smarter, braver, etc. Human equivalent holding and singing and talking and soothing. There is a strong connection between infant brain chemistry and adult cognition and behavior. If we want to intervene in character development, there are two key periods: infancy and adolescence. Adolescence because they are able to engage in metacognition for the first time. Try to take advantage of that natural tendency to help them change their thinking and their behavior and their character. Study of KIPP schools and Riverdale school - polar opposites. Both groups of students were doing great on paper, achieving, but seemed to lack that deep inner grit and resilience that we need to succeed and thrive. Worked with psychologists from UPenn and came up with a list of seven key characteristics: Optimism Zest Curiosity Self-control Gratitude Social Intelligence Grit - perseverance in pursuit of a passion. There's a 12-question grit test on her website ( This test is highly predictive of future success. Character report card ( used for teachers to evaluate these characteristics in their students. The message of the report card is that the students can improve and change - use it as a tool to create a growth mindset. Not at all punitive. Not waiting to change and improve character because a student has done something bad. It's all about creating a positive climate and creating great future citizens. But calling it a "report card" may be problematic. It's really a point of discussion. Students are often unable to work on these things because they are protected from everything. Character strengths like grit and self-control are born out of failure, and in today's society no one really fails at anything. We often confuse stress with challenge. Students may be working unbelievably hard (stress) but are not particularly challenged, interested, motivated and therefore are not developing great characteristics.  Failure is not a guarantee of resilience. In many cases it just wears them down. There's an adversity gap in this country. Some kids have too much and actually need some protection. Others, particularly affluent students, have almost none. In trying to protect our kids too much we may be doing more harm than good. In a study correlating experiences with adversity with mental health and happiness, those who had experienced no adversity (or very little) were no happier than the ones who had experienced a ton. Those who had experienced SOME (3 or 4 items on their checklist out of 12) were happiest and healthiest. Must help students learn to manage failure. When you play chess, you lose a lot and you make a lot of mistakes. Faced with this in middle school, there are two temptations: 1. chess is stupid anyway haha, 2. wallow in your failure. By focusing on metacognition, you can guide students between these temptations. Help them figure out what they did wrong, why they did it, build the knowledge and confidence needed to improve. For infants, we must provide "licking and grooming," but at some point we must transition, pull back, and let children solve their own problems, stand on their own, and learn how to fail. We don't need to manufacture adversity for our kids; they face it all the time in school, sports, with siblings, and in social situations. What really makes a difference is how we react to it, how we talk about it, and how we model failure. For kids in high-poverty areas, the answer is not to let them fail more. We've been letting them fail too much for too long. It's hard to believe that kids who have been exposed to toxic stress and have altered brain chemistry because of it could ever succeed, but some do. Seems rare and random. But for the first time we're starting to understand the science behind it - how the environment can cause such massive biological and social problems and how interventions can lead to success. In all of these stories, there is help - someone who reaches out and supports and helps, family member, teacher, coach, neighbor, friend. And this help focuses on development of character, not IQ. We can do it individually and we can do it systematically by appealing to administration and building it into our school and social structures. Tail-end of Dennis Charney, M.D. - Resilience: The Science of Mastering life's Greatest Challenges Resilience is about as genetic as anxiety and depression! But it's not destiny, just a vulnerability. His model of resilience:

L&B NYC: Robert Brooks

L&B 2013 NYC Robert Brooks - The Power of Mindsets: Nurturing Motivation and Resilience in Students Gah! This guy is hilarious! :) Sam Goldstein at UofU worked with him on a lot of research! Over 100 articles posted there, lots of materials from presentations, etc. Mindset goes back a long way - locus of control, attribution theory, learned helplessness/optimism, self-efficacy The power of mindsets Mindsets: The assumptions and expectations we have for ourselves and others that guide our behavior We all have words and images that we use to describe ourselves. Those dramatically impact how we behave and perform. Name two or three of your greatest success. Name two or three of your worst experiences. What did you learn from both? These are mindset questions. Every child you work with knows how you feel about yourself and how you feel about your kids. And that will directly impact their mindsets and what they will accomplish. If you want to touch the hearts and minds of children and change their mindsets, you must identify their strengths (their islands of competence) and have those as your primary mindset. ARTICLE ON HIS WEBSITE: You get what you expect What is the mindset of educators and other professionals who touch both the hearts and minds of students, nurturing motivation, learning, and resilience? Do we identify and discuss this mindset at staff meetings? Every school has a mindset Ask kids, "What do you like about your school? What do you wish you could change?" Tests scare and confuse kids. Even the disruption of the schedule can be a major problem. Features of a positive mindset The heart and soul of this work: - To believe in the capacity of students to become more hopeful and resilient. To believe we can serve as a "charismatic adult." Why is it that some children can grow up in horrendous situations and yet as adults be optimistic and dignified? Why can some grow up in horribly abusive situations and end up healthy and happy? "School is a place where my deficits rather than my strengths are highlighted." "Going to school is like climbing Mt. Everest every day without equipment or training. Then I do it again every night: it's called homework." In every study of resilience, there was a person who helped and guided and supported The ones who make it have during their childhood or adolescence a charismatic adult - someone from whom the child or adolescent gathers strength. Often a teacher. ( Ask yourself at the end of each day: Are the children in my classes stronger today because of what I've done, or less strong? Charismatic adults believe no child should ever be written off, because you never know how they're going to end up as adults. (YouTube: Think Different: Obsessive Compulsive writing on chalkboard cartoon - gotta use this to teach behaviorism! We are the authors of our own lives. We have far more control than we give ourselves credit for. But we don't have control over everything. But that is not an excuse to not try. Features of a positive mindset (cont.) - To be knowledgeable about the material we are teaching and excited about our role as an educator - To believe that all children from birth want to learn and be successful There are some words that must be banned from our schools: lazy, unmotivated, doesn't care. Whenever you say these words you've written off a child. Robert White: one of the major motivations in life is the drive to be effective and successful (competence motivation), and it's there from birth. When we say that kids aren't motivated at school, we actually mean that they aren't motivated to do what we're trying to get them to do. - To believe that all students are motivated, but unfortunately, some are dominated by "avoidance motivation" as a way of protecting themselves from situations that they believe will lead to failure and humiliation. We must ask how to lessen avoidance and teach students in the ways in which they learn best and avoid a "prescription for failure." Too often, the work we give and the way we teach in schools is a prescription for failure. How do we lessen avoidance motivation? Ask the kids why they feel this way! Ask them what should be changed! We must stop punishing suffering kids! - To believe that if the strategies we are using with students are not effective then we must ask, "What is it that we can do differently to help the situation?" rather than continue to wait for the student to change first. This should not be seen as blaming but rather as empowering ourselves. People who are resilient, when faced with a challenge, look for things they can do differently. "If the horse is dead, get off!" In education, we seem to have a hard time getting off the horse. ( AMAZING results from getting kids involved rather than punishing them. Latino kids asked to tutor younger kids in reading (We need your help). Drop-out rate went from 45% to 3%.  YouTube: Stuck on the escalator ( Read Daniel Pink's "Drive" (quotes Edward Deci (self-determination theory) a lot - Features of a positive mindset (cont.) - To create "motivating environments" that nurture intrinsic motivation, learning, and a "resilient mindset": Deci's focus on basic needs that apply to administrators, staff, and students 1. Relatedness: The need to belong and feel connection (and let's add the word welcome). When any member of the school environment feels alienated, learning and achievement will be compromised and anger and resentment will become dominant features. Ask your kids: What can teachers/administrators do to make you feel welcome? Greet by name, smile.  2. Autonomy: The need for self-determination and autonomy, which are significant features of a sense of intrinsic motivation, ownership, and resilience. a. What kind of choices and decisions do we provide staff and students? Do we encourage their feedback and participation? Kids who are given a choice do more homework, better work, and feel their teachers care more. Lots of articles on his website. b. Do our disciplinary practices promote self-discipline and self-control as well as nurturing a safe environment? Start the year by saying that there are two or three non-negotiable rules, then ask what rules we need in the classroom for everyone to feel safe, learn, etc. Student council should form school rules. 3. Competence. The need to feel competent. To identify, reinforce, and display each youngster's "islands of competence" -- we must adopt a strength-based model if we are to nurture motivation and a "resilient mindset." Every teacher should write down each student's islands of competence and focus on those (seating chart, TeacherKit app, etc. so they're always in front of us) a. Do we provide students with an opportunity to contribute to and make a positive difference in their environment? SOS - Serving Our School, buttons for students to wear, if they're wearing the button (they sign up for times) they help with odd jobs around the school. Bullying reduced, attendance and achievement up. b. Do we foster the attitude that mistakes are experiences from which to learn?  Some kids would rather be violent than look stupid. Would rather act out than look stupid. The best way to get rid of a raging elephant in a school is to talk about it. Ask the first day: Who in this class thinks they'll make a mistake this year? Your hand should be the first to go up. Talk about a time a teacher embarrassed you and how it made you feel. Then brainstorm together ways to remove the fear of humiliation in the classroom so they can take appropriate risks and learn. "Don't Argue with Children"

L&B NYC - Heidi Grant Halvorson

L&B 2013 NYC Heidi Grant Halvorson, PhD How the Science of Mindsets and Motivation Provides the Key to Unlocking Our Children's Fullest Potential Books: Focus, Succeed Mindsets Students sitting in a classroom are not all having the same experience if they have different mindsets Determine what you pay attention to and what you remember/encode Impact the interpretation and meaning of your experiences Influence how you feel about setbacks, and whether those feelings fuel (growth) or dampen (fixed) your motivation Influence what motivates you Determine in large part which strategies work best for you What happens when I get "the carrot?" Do I advance or stay safe? Promotion & Prevention Mindsets How do YOU think about your goals? - preventing negative events - imagining how things could go wrong - seizing opportunities - imagine good things you hope will happen A goal can be an opporunity to... Gain                                                                Avoid Loss Achievements, Rewards, Advancement        Danger, Punishments, Mistakes What you ideally want to do                           What you feel you should do Going from 0 to +1                                         (Not) Going from 0 to -1 Promotion Focs = Seeking Gain Love, adventure, fun, going for the win Prevention Focus = Avoiding Loss Costs, Safety & Health, Security, Accuracy We all have both of these and often switch between depending on situation (best to say "When you are promotion/prevention focused...", both we also have a dominant one. Dominant one may be different for different contexts (e.g., promotion-focused at work, prevention-focused as a parent) We beat ourselves up for not being able to do it all, but hopefully this will help us understand. Our motivational systems have strengths and weaknesses. Finding a cure for cancer and making sure the taxes get filed are very different motivationally. Strengths Promotion - creativity, innovation, speed, confidence, seizing opportunities Prevention - planning, maintenance, accuracy, cautiousness, reliability Weaknesses Promotion - Ignoring pitfalls, no plan b (best case scenario planners), mistakes/sloppier work, poor maintainers Prevention - Missed opportunities, conservative/status quo (the devil you know...), slower, inflexible Where do these come from? - Childhood experience         - Good things: presence of positives, absence of negatives         - Bad things: presence of negatives, absence of positives - Temperament         - negative affectivity (tuned in to the presence/absence of negatives) - prevention focus         - positive affectivity (tuned in to the presence/absence of positives) - promotion focus - Parenting Styles                                         Promotion                                Prevention Child behaves                        Bolstering                                 Calmness, peacefulness Child misbehaves                  Love withdrawal                        Punishing                                         Giving and taking away of pos        Giving and taking away of neg - Age         - Younger people are generally more promotion-focused (advancement, insensitive to risk, less to lose)         - As we age, we often become more prevention-focused (hanging on to gains, concerned with safety/security/health) - Culture         - Independent (America) v. Interdependent (East Asia, South America) self         - When goals are individual = more promotion focus (Western countries, US in particular)         - When goals benefit group = more prevention focused (Eastern Asian, South American, also rigid rule-based societies like Germany and Japan) Creating Motivational Fit When our experiences, the way we work, and/or the feedback we receive sustain our motivation How they work best (what feels right?) Promotion: motivation=eagerness, optimism, praise, embrace risk, say "Yes!", not dwelling on past mistakes, "gut" decisions, relying on instincts Prevention: motivation=vigilance, realism (even pessimism, defensive pessimism - things might go wrong and I have to do everything I can to make sure they won't, not the same as fear of failure), constructive criticism/self-sacrifice, Avoid risk, say "no!", learning from past mistakes, decisions based on reason and evidence Other ways to create fit                                                         Promotion                                Prevention Think about what you do                        In WHY terms                          In HOW terms Think in the                                             Abstract                                   Concrete (There was more, but she was running out of time. They're in the book) You want them to do X Promotion: the benefits of doing X, approach gain Prevention: the costs of not doing X, avoid loss Take a step back and look at the person you're working with. What is that person's focus? Don't do what feels right to you, do what feels right to them. Very subtle changes in language make a huge difference. If you're addressing a group, make sure that your message contains phrasing toward both. People will zero in on the part of your message that matches their focus. Changing Focus (Neither is better or worse, but you might want to evoke the strengths of one or the other) Again, tailor your language to the focus you want to develop - reasons why they should do it, get them thinking about considerations for the future, reflect on the past, use positive reinforcement (promotion) or threat of removal punishment (prevention) - to activate that focus How does all this help educators? - Focus is easy to identify - Offers guidance about what is motivating, which strategies work best, where problems may lie - Feedback should be tailored to fit focus, so it's more motivating and persuasive - Focus can be changed to restore balance, to suit the task and to help get the job done, when necessary Take the test!

L&B NYC - Sean L. Beilock

Learning and Performance in School: Mindset, Attitudes and Anxiety L&B New York Sian Beilock Math anxiety begins to develop as early as first grade More math anxiety = poorer performance in math Just a correlation, don't have a direction of causality Students who are the highest in executive functioning show a higher correlation. In other words, those who are usually at the top of their class perform the worst on math tasks when their anxiety is high. The worries may rob them of the brain power needed to complete the tasks Higher achievement may equal higher susceptibility Not just people who are bad at math are showing anxiety. Where does the math anxiety come from (it's higher than for other subjects) Elementary Education majors have the highest levels of math anxiety of all college majors Elementary teachers in US are 97% female. May be having a particularly strong impact on the girls in their classrooms via modeling For girls, the higher the teacher's math anxiety, the lower the girls' math achievement No correlation for boys Girls in math-anxious-teacher classrooms confirmed academic stereotypes (books for girls, math for boys) more strongly at the end of the school year, even though they didn't at the beginning of the year. Girls who DON'T confirm the stereotype have much better math ability, same as boys. Girls who confirm it perform significantly lower than boys, other girls. We MUST equip the teachers so they are not anxious! Parents play a role too. Teacher and mom are the worst for a girl. But non-anxious parents can help counteract teacher effect and vice versa. The anxiety robs people of the ability to show what they know Pain centers activate when math anxious people are told they have to do math Her research shows that pressure/anxiety reduce performance/accuracy on tasks that require a heavier working memory load (requiring executive function, involvement of frontal cortex. not true of easy tasks) Treatment Write about your worries before you go in to a high stress situation - reduces ruminations, takes that load off of working memory, downloads them so they won't "pop up" during performance. Expressive Writing by James Penebaker ( Boost score on high stakes final by 6% just by doing this writing - boosted to same level as low-anxiety students Many students are able to re-evaluate their feelings and find insight by the end of the writing - like writing a really angry email you're never going to send Whole toolbox of techniques in her book Choke Testing helps people learn! Get them ready through practice tests. People need experience with the types of situations that make them anxious "Success is more than simply what you know. Attitudes, motivation and anxieties are critical."