The review of data indicates that, across all countries involved in the assessment, only 8 percent of students are considered top performers in collaborative problem solving.
Positive relationships with peers, teachers, and parents, along with particularly fair treatment by teachers, are factors associated with higher collaboration scores, as is use of the internet and social networks outside school. However, students who report playing video games regularly score slightly lower in collaboration skills.
While many school subjects provide opportunities to cultivate skills in and positive attitudes towards collaboration, physical education is especially relevant. The PISA report indicates that participation in physical activity enhances positive attitudes towards collaboration, with students who attend physical education classes once or twice a week scoring highest in collaborative problem solving.
Change the system in the right ways and many of the problems of poor behavior, low motivation, and disengagement tend to disappear. It can be the system itself that creates the problems.
There’s more room to make changes within the current education system than many people think. Schools operate as they do not because they have to but because they choose to. They don’t need to be that way; they can change and many do. Innovative schools everywhere are breaking the mold of convention to meet the best interests of their students, families, and communities. As well as great teachers, what they have in common is visionary leadership.
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Positive climates do not just happen, of course. They arise from the practices and rituals implemented and encouraged within a school.
Table: 19 Behaviors Listed in the Positive School Culture Inventory
Showing pride in school
Taking pride in one’s work
Love of learning
Using time wisely
Making good choices
Using appropriate communication
Making an insightful comment
Going above and beyond
The transition to personalized learning felt big, so I decided to start with something I knew was important for my students: developing autonomy.
Self-directed learning destabilizes traditional models of learning and that can be scary. I teach my students that failure is an opportunity for growth and that they shouldn’t be afraid to try new things, but sometimes it’s hard to take my own advice.
In reflection, I realize that the “at risk” label was hindering me from trying self-directed learning with my students, and it was stunting their self-confidence. By letting my assumptions get in the way, I came close to becoming another adult who was giving up on them.
I know every lesson I tweak and every new practice I use may not go smoothly, but encouraging all of my students to develop more autonomy is critical to their success so I owe it to them to try. My students need to practice being independent thinkers and learners like all other students, and they deserve to know what it feels like to take pride in their own learning.
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