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What Schools Don’t Teach : 20 Ways to Help Students Excel in School and Life by Brad Johnson and Julie Sessions

I do enjoy one quote from the Introduction of the book. The authors mentioned that

EVERY STUDENTS deserves the opportunity to develop their talents and life skills, which will provide the best opportunity for them to EXCEL in life.’ (Johnson & Sessions, 2015, p.1).

In reality, education values testing and making sure all students act and think alike. Reading and counting do matter a lot for students. However, character is just as important when it comes to being a productive citizen.

The summary of 20 ways to help students to EXCEL:

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1) Promote Leadership

There are 5 traits or talents that are considered as key components of leadership. These include intelligence, integrity, determination, self-confidence and sociability. Teacher need to identify one of the traits in each student. As that traits can be the starting pointing for the student. Teacher need to inform the job expectations for each group member before each project or activities. These will help the group member to develop their skills within the job expectations and become the leader in that task.

2) Allow competition

Personal competition allows students to compete with themselves and to reach personal goals. Renaissance Learning and the Accelerated Reading Program can help students to enhance reading skills. Students have a set of period time to reach their own goal while also being aware of others’ progress.

3) Help Boys Become Reader

Boys claim reading becomes less enjoyable as they become older. Thus, let boys choose their own reading material. Programming coding apps such as Hopscotch, Tynker or Code Academy are encouraged for boys. These apps help boys in problem solving and strategize. While, girls prefer to write their own creative narrative stories using apps such as Scribble Press, Write About This or Book Creator. Who know this can help them to become the next JK Rowling

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4) Inspire Creativity

Incorporate divergent thinking when appropriate. Divergent thinking considers how a learner can use different ways to approach a problem.

5) Encourage Meaningful Engagement

6) Help Students Find Their Voices

Give students a chance to do public speaking. It is a good activity to practice their speech, pronunciation, and body gesture.

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7) Incorporate Edutainment and Pop culture

Edutainment is connecting the learning in the classroom to the real world in a fun and meaningful way. However, the content must be age-appropriate and fits within any regulations the school has developed.

8) Motivate toward Excellence

Challenge students so they feel a sense of accomplishment. Muscle can only grows when it works against resistance.

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9) Hold Students Accountable and Responsible

10) Foster Perseverance and the Ability to Learn from Failure

11) Don’t Childproof Education

A student’s education is a team work between student, parent and teacher. All parties must do their parts and corporate with each other. Parents should not help their children to do their work. Teacher need to be a guidance and mentor, rather than let the chalk do the talking.

12) Instill Vigor

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13) Model Flexibility

Set guidelines for communicating with students, parents and other teachers. This will help them know when you will respond to them. They will feel validated and you will not be aspect to be available at every whim. Flexibility is what enables individuals to generate new ways to solve a problem, adapt to changes in routines and adjust to the unexpected.

14) Create Kids of Character

15) Integrate Technology

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16) Promote Teamwork

Group work and teamwork are two different characteristics and goals. Team building us a skill for the future. Provide feedback and work on team-building skills to help students grow and improves as teammates.

17) Teach effective communication

18) Instruct the Individual

19) Authenticate the Relationships

Relationships are built on respect and communication. Teachers are powerful role models in regards to relationships

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20) Merge the Real World into the classroom

Finding meaningful ways to bring in professionals, guest speakers or incorporate careers into the academic content area. Encourage students to become the best “self” they can be regardless of their interests. Remember if all students are able to develop to their full potential, then they will be happier and more successful in the real world. It is never too early to build the foundation of skills needed for success and the pursuit of excellence.

Conclusion, the different teaching methods are stated in the books with great detail. Some of the methods are applicable in Malaysia education context. Hopefully, with all these methods, teachers and students can improve too.

Johnson, B., & Sessions, J. (2015). What schools don’t teach: 20 ways to help students excel in school and life. New York: Routledge.

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