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How Do You Think Working Hard & Learning Everything You Can In This Class Might Help You Now & In The Future?

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Noah Goldstein at the Inside Influence Report just wrote about a study that is prompting me to try some things out in my class — tomorrow and next week.

He writes about…

“Adam Grant, a scholar in the field of organizational behavior, realized that workers often fail to live up to their potential because they’ve lost track of the significance and meaningfulness of their own jobs. He figured that if he could remind employees of why their jobs are important, they might become more highly motivated, and therefore, more productive individuals.

Grant did an experiment where workers read testimonials from people who benefited from their work. Those workers had a huge jump in their productivity compared to control groups.

Goldstein continues:

there’s significance and meaningfulness inherent to every job in existence—it’s just that employees often lose sight of what that is. The persuasive leader is someone who can help employees regain their sight by reminding them of how meaningful their jobs can be to others and to themselves.

So, how might this relate to the classroom?

First, here is what I’m doing tomorrow:

After students in my ninth-grade mainstream English class (by the way, just to help get a better understanding of this often challenging class,I should clarify that it’s a two hour one for incoming students deemed to need additional support) finish their fifteen minutes of silent reading at the beginning of class, I will ask them to respond to this question on the board:

How do you think working hard and learning everything you can in this class might help you now and in the future? Please list as many possible benefits as you can. If you don’t think it will benefit you, please explain why not.

I’ll then have students share with partners and then with the class.

Next, I’m going to ask colleagues who teach tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade English to ask their students to write about how they felt what they learned in ninth-grade English has helped them so far in their lives, and how they feel it might help them in the future. Next week, I’ll share some of those responses with my ninth-graders and ask them to share what they’ve learned and possibly explore the similarities and differences between their answers and the older students’ answers.

I think both exercises will be interesting, and might offer a comparable exercise to Grant’s experiment (even though I won’t be using a control group or measuring it’s effectiveness in any way). But I figure any kind of reflective activity surely can’t hurt….

Feedback is welcome….

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

3 Comments

  1. I was subbing as a special education instructional aide at a high school and a student needed help on a textbook question: “Why is education important?” This question was in his Economics textbook and he was upset that he couldn’t find the answer in the book. I then asked him of his opinion and he couldn’t answer that either. Using his textbook I managed to put the answer in a perspective that he would understand. After this, I thought about how often do we really ask our students about what they learn now, what they want to learn in the future, and what do they think is important about education and their future. One teacher in my PLN said because teachers don’t want to hear the answer, but I think we should hear the answer. Students don’t ask us why we want to become teachers not because they don’t want to hear the answer, but maybe because they don’t care to know. Shouldn’t we care to know what they think their reasons are for going to school? I don’t want to hear “Because I have to” or “Because I want to”. I want to hear “because I chose to” or “because what I learn now will be in my future”, but teachers don’t ask this question enough to hear those answers.

  2. By the way, this lesson is a great start to get students and teachers to start thinking about hardwork, dedication, and education.

  3. I’m a music teacher in Bayonne, New Jersey and I’m currently re-writing our district curriculum using the Understanding by Design framework. It emphasizes that in order for students to have a deeper understanding of the concepts being learned in class they need to connect them to real life experiences. Students must have an idea of what the “big picture” is in relationship to the materials they are learning about. I can definitely see a connection between Grant’s work and that of Grant-Wiggins, the authors of UbD.

    I’ve recently started my own blog and also have my students keeping their own blogs. Your website has been an inspiration and a valuable source of information. Thank you so much for sharing your insight and knowledge with the rest of the world!

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