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Volume IV Issue IX

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Setting Students Up for Success: Filling in the Blanks

Bruce Oliver

Bruce facilitating a Leading the Learning® workshop


In many classrooms I have seen excited and involved students busily engaged in worthwhile learning experiences. I watched the children and listened to their teacher, I tried to determine what made these classrooms come alive with vibrancy and enthusiasm. I concluded that, in almost all cases, the teacher had carefully prepared the students for the learning that was taking place.

In contrasting classrooms, however, students seemed to be passive and uninvolved. There was a lesson plan in evidence, yet there seemed to be a paucity of true “buy-in” on the part of the students. When I talked to the students about the learning that was supposed to be occurring, they gave me a variety of responses about their lack of engagement. Some were not sure what they were supposed to do; others were bored and did not see the purpose of the activity. Still others felt the work was too hard, or that they did not have the skills or knowledge to work on the task that they were asked to complete.

I have met very few teachers who are simply “going through the motions” of teaching. The vast majority of teachers are well intentioned and want their students to be successful learners. When they witness the passivity of their students, they become discouraged. They are not sure what they should do. What they are sure of is that they want to eradicate the boredom and apathy they see in their students.

School leaders can assist teachers in closely examining their teaching to determine if there are steps that they can take to improve the learning climate in their classrooms. Sometimes a teacher can be “too close” to a problem to determine what steps to take.

For assistance in helping teachers eliminate those blank stares, please refer to a ten question self-assessment titled Filling in the Blanks at the end of this newsletter, appropriate for use in faculty meetings or in supervisory conferences.



Permission is granted for reprinting and distribution of this newsletter for non-commercial use only. Please include the following citation on all copies:
Oliver, Bruce. “Setting Students Up for Success: Filling in the Blanks” Just for the ASKing! August 2007. Reproduced with permission of Just ASK Publications & Professional Development (Just ASK). © 2007 Just ASK. All rights reserved. Available at www.justaskpublications.com.