Based on your field experience observations to this point, what are the students’ needs with regard to 1) Metacognition, 2) Mindset, and 3) Motivation. For each of these areas, write a robust paragraph analyzing the students’ needs and how you plan to address those needs when you teach your lesson. Use and underline vocabulary from the theories as you complete your analysis and to justify your plan.
Based on my observations, many of the students need some scaffolding to help them think through their own learning. Last week, I graded some timed essays that the 12th grade class had completed. Some students’ essays were well-structured text only; other students’ essays were well-structured, with an outline roughed out beneath the prompt; other students’ essays had an outline, but were not well-structured; and other students’ essays were neither well-structured nor had a rough outline. Although an outline was not a stated requirement of the timed essay exercise, I could see that it had helped most of the students—even the students who didn’t have a written outline almost certainly had an outline thought out before they began writing. To be successful in learning, these students need to use their procedural metacognitive knowledge to choose the best approach in completing the essay. In some cases, they need to develop their procedural metacognitive knowledge, as some students did not have strategies available to them. They also need to use their declarative metacognitive knowledge to know what strategies work best for their own learning style. I believe that most of these students, who are seniors, know proper essay structures; they just need to be reminded that this strategy is one they have in their toolbox.
When I teach, I plan to meet students’ metacognitive needs by pointing out to them the procedural knowledge that we’re building in that lesson. Since metacognition isn’t a term that already exists in the classroom vocabulary, and since my lesson most likely will not be about metacognition, I won’t use the term directly. However, I can discuss with students how a particular strategy or writing structure extends into other situations. We can brainstorm together how and when they might use it again. I can also encourage students to self-reflect on how well they liked using the strategy or writing structure to help build their declarative metacognitive knowledge.
Students in both classes I’ve observed have a growth mindset, and the theory of a growth mindset really permeates all aspects of the classroom. I’ve observed these students read classics that are challenging—and not only complete the novel, but come away with an understanding of the important themes. I’ve observed them ask questions that are focused on mastery of the material rather than their grades. I believe that most of these students have a good growth mindset, and their main needs regarding mindset are for me as the guest teacher not to ruin in.
I recognize in myself still a mix of a growth and fixed mindset. When I teach the class, I need to reinforce the growth mindset by providing an activity that focuses on mastery and requires actual effort. Anything too easy will be seen as busywork. I also need to be sure that I am prepared to answer their mastery-driven questions.
I believe that each of these students is motivated by something different—some by grades, others by scholarships, some by learning, and others by their extracurricular activities. Each has different extrinsic and intrinsic motivational factors that drive them to come to class and learn. At a school with most students in a middle to high socioeconomic status, most students have their deficiency needs met, and can therefore focus on their growth needs. Mrs. G. does a great job in her classroom implementing the cognitive arousal theory, using bell ringers and comprehension quizzes to prepare students’ brains for learning and guide them to the optimal level of engagement. I have observed less real-world relevance on a few occasions, a key component of motivation.
When I teach, I want to be sure the lesson is relevant. Not only do these students need to make connections to their lives, something Mrs. G. does an amazing job at, they also need the lesson material itself to be relevant. Some aspects of English are difficult to make relevant, but I believe that if students can see when they’ll use rhetorical analysis in real life, they’ll be more motivated to learn about it. I can plan to make my lesson relevant by providing examples of real-life people who use the skill I’m teaching, by providing a personal example of when I use that skill, and brainstorming with the class times in their future they might use the skill or when they’ve seen other adults use the skill.
I’ve been observing and assisting in high school English classes for three weeks now, and the biggest takeaway thus far is that each of these students is really very different. Each has unique needs related to metacognition, mindset, and motivation, and each is uniquely prepared to meet the learning demands in English. As a future teacher, metacognition, mindset, and motivation all directly impact my students and their learning, and methods to improve metacognition, develop a growth mindset, and increase motivation should be an integral part of my lessons.