Education Week - February 15, 2017 - 11
feedback on your paper." Students
in the experimental group instead
received a note that spoke to their
potential as individuals: "I'm giving
you these comments because I have
very high expectations and I know
that you can reach them."
Response to Encouragement
Given the chance to revise their
essays, black students in the experimental group were more likely
to make changes suggested by the
teacher. They also showed less loss
of trust over time than their peers
in the control group and they had
fewer discipline incidents the next
year. The researchers emphasized
that the experiment used a small
sample of students, and that a
teacher's encouraging note would
not remedy all distrust.
"Of course, truly 'wise' educators
do not simply append notes to essays and end their interventions
there," the study says. "Instead,
they stay mindful of their students'
perspectives, and let this awareness continually inform their practices in word and in deed."
The finding that changes to how
adults interact with students can
influence students' attitudes and,
subsequently, their behavior, is
supported by a growing body of
evidence. Researchers at Stanford
recently found that an exercise designed to promote empathy in teachers led to lower suspension rates.
Similarly, a Rutgers University
study found that having veteran
teachers coach younger peers had
an unexpected outcome: an elimination of racial disparities in discipline rates in their classrooms.
That coaching model, called "My
Teaching Partner," was developed
at the University of Virginia. It
emphasizes "holding high expectations for all students in the classroom, individualizing supports, and
trusting students" by giving them
more choices in the classroom, said
Bridget Hamre, the associate director of the Center for the Advanced
Study of Teaching and Learning at
UVA. For example, teachers may
seek students' insights when they
introduce new concepts, she said.
"It's anything that shows them
that you're authentically interested in understanding their perspective in how the world works,"
Hamre said. And students whose
teachers had the training seemed
to respond to their teachers' trust
in kind, which led to the surprising
disciplinary outcomes, she said.
Changes in teacher behavior
seemed to have greater effects on
students of color because they've
been traditionally marginalized by
education systems, researchers say.
"We find that students who
chronically had mistrust benefited
the most [from receiving an encouraging note]," Yeager said. "A
surprising instance of an adult taking you seriously can be a spotlight
memory, something you look back
to, a turning point."
Coverage of learning mindsets and
skills is supported in part by a grant
from the Raikes Foundation, at www.
raikesfoundation.org. Education Week
retains sole editorial control over the
content of this coverage.
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