Category: Education

Ethan Allen Preparatory, Ridgefield CT
12 June
2020
  • June 12, 2020

Growth Mindset and the New Normal

Normal- conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.(as defined in the dictionary)

Covid-19 has forced us out of our comfort zone causing us to view both our immediate, and global surroundings with new and different perspectives.  The standard to which to conform, the usual, the typical and the expected can no longer be defined en masse. The world is not like it was three months ago…as we see the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on education, economies, politics and social issues, to name a few, in the daily news cycle. Irrespective of how any of these issues affect us personally, we cannot ignore that our lives have been changed and we may no longer be able to predict normal.  Therefore, in order to define and embrace a “new normal” for ourselves and those we care for, our mindset must change. If we don’t possess one already, shifting to a growth mindset will be necessary as we build out new daily routines, social opportunities and career aspirations etc. While the term “new normal” may be confusing, (it is to me) a growth mindset, holding true to positive human values, and working together through future adversity, will enable us to no longer stagnate and to no longer accept “normal” because we will forever strive to learn from our experiences and be better.

The article below talks about developing a growth mindset through grit and resilience.

https://positivepsychology.com/5-ways-develop-grit-resilience/

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Ethan Allen Preparatory, Ridgefield CT
05 June
2020
  • June 5, 2020

Metacognition

For many of us, taking the time to reflect upon an activity we had recently completed to better understand its purpose and value seems decadent….or better yet, intimidating. So, we avoid it- “I’ve got other things to do and don’t have the time to waste”; putting up a barrier to avoid the discomfort of trying to better understand ourselves.  The truth is, many of us are not comfortable with trying to better understand how or why we did something.  We don’t know how to do it and it certainly makes us uncomfortable to look inward and examine ourselves.  Unfortunately, we are selling our learning process short and therefore, not maximizing the value of the experience.  The linked article below helps us better understand both the value of, and the process for, metacognition as it helps us become highly advanced learners. Enjoy!

The Power of Metacognition

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Ethan Allen Preparatory, Ridgefield CT
29 May
2020
  • May 29, 2020

Student Athletes Have More Time and
Flexibility Than Ever Before. Now
What?

The last few months have taught us many valuable lessons. It is more evident that the standardization of time and standardizing how our students learn is proving to be an ineffective way for them to achieve personal goals. Remote learning has created the opportunity for education institutions to develop more individualized experiences. Whether it has involved small group Zoom sessions that focus on deeper discussions of the topics at hand, individualized sessions with a teacher or an opportunity to simply prioritize flexible, or less structured time. Many students, outside of the aforementioned experiences have discovered that they now have the time to further explore or develop passions in one or more areas.  As evidenced by Tik Tok or YouTube videos, and myriad other social media platforms, kids are using their flexible time to demonstrate greater proficiency of a particular skill in music, art and sports.  Using time in this way is productive if for no other reason than a person pursuing one’s passion.  The pursuit of a passion while “doing school” increases a student’s level of mastery, overall desire to achieve their goals and most importantly, happiness. Wouldn’t it be great if school allowed us to not only maximize our learning and mastery of the academic skills and dispositions required to achieve success but to also pursue, deeply, an identified passion as well?  Through our blended model consisting of the K12 platform and our own teachers, coaches, and mentors, students enrolled at EAP benefit from flexible learning time as well as an ability to form positive relationships with adults who support them in and out of the classroom.

My suggested reading is written by Victoria Jones out of Harvard University.

Because I’m Happy

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Ethan Allen Preparatory, Ridgefield CT
22 May
2020
  • May 22, 2020

The Hidden Gem of Quarantine –
Scavenger Hunts!

Running out of ideas to keep student athletes occupied at home that don’t involve adding screen time?

Consider mixing it up with a scavenger hunt! Scavenger hunts have many benefits for student athletes, in that they require activation of the body and mind. By working on puzzles, your child can build upon his or her problem solving skills and learn in an interactive way that increases retention and memory. Sending them on a quest is also exciting and involves running around the house or neighborhood to get their heart rates pumping. The best part is that they will be building their skills and learning while having a blast.

Ethan Allen Prep recommends using this website, treasure.run. It does all of the work for you, so your family can stay actively engaged while having fun with their learning.

 

Quarantine Scavenger Hunt

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Ethan Allen Preparatory, Ridgefield CT
15 May
2020
  • May 15, 2020

Know What To Do When You
Don’t Know What To Do

More vividly than ever before, we are reminded of this age old obstacle that we face at various times throughout our lives. If you are like me, in your fifties that is, then you have undoubtedly had to figure out a way around, over, under or through this obstacle several times in your life. However, none of us and especially not our children, have faced anything akin to what we are in the middle of right now.  With each day that working, teaching, and learning take place in our homes, the obstacle in front of us seems to grow ever more daunting. 

Recently, I put together a list that has helped navigate this time with less stress and greater happiness.  I believe it translates well to all ages and could be a useful “guide” for us parents. 

1. Focus on the goal– What is your goal for the day, the week or the month? Don’t let what isn’t going wrong in this very moment throw you off the path of achieving your goal. Make your goals impactful yet attainable.

2. Stay true to your values- This is not the time to question your self-worth or your inherent sense of what is right and good for you and your loved ones. At the end of each day, be proud of who you are.

3. Do something– This is not the time for big ideas that will only be stifled by social distancing orders or limited access to resources.  Paint a room, fix the leaky faucet, teach your child a new skill or do anything that has a rewarding outcome.

4. Get feedback– This is definitely not the time to isolate yourself from input.  Almost everything you did prior to March 2020, you are now doing differently.  Don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues, your children or your spouse- How am I doing? What am I doing well? In what areas can I be better?

5. Believe in yourself– Trust your instincts.  You have navigated this time successfully thus far so you must be making good decisions.  Your kids, who most likely don’t have the skills to navigate this time as well as you can, have also handled these past two months well and should be reminded of that. They, too, deserve to believe in themselves.

6. Think it through– In the current situation, impulsivity can have exaggerated effects.  We are continuously questioning when it will end and how it will impact me or my family’s future so taking uncalculated risks can be a bigger set back than usual.

Knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do is difficult.  Limiting its potential to create a downward spiral of negativity by adopting a set of “guidelines” or “rules” for yourself and/or loved ones may help you get around, over, under or through your obstacle. Stay healthy and happy.

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Ethan Allen Preparatory, Ridgefield CT
08 May
2020
  • May 8, 2020

When there aren’t enough hours in
the day

If “there aren’t enough hours in the day” seems to be a common phrase for you, then you most likely struggle with time management and prioritization. A common misconception is that we are inherently supposed to have these skills, but did you come out of the womb knowing how to swing a golf club? Didn’t think so. Just like the skills of golf, prioritization is a skill that needs to be learned and developed. Ethan Allen Prep uses a matrix like the one below to help our students visually categorize their tasks. Learning to assess importance and urgency is crucial to productivity and could be the difference between meeting deadlines and/or checking ten items off of your ‘to do’ list versus one. Although you may think that it is counterproductive to take the time to do this, it will save you time in the long run and ensure you are completing your most important and urgent tasks first. 

When there aren’t enough hours in the day

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Ethan Allen Preparatory, Ridgefield CT
01 May
2020
  • May 1, 2020

You Don’t Know What You Don’t
Know, But You Can Learn!

One of the best parts about watching reality shows like the X Factor, The Bachelor, and Survivor is listening to people brag about how they are going to win, only to be buzzed off, voted out, or not given a rose in the first round. While the person on the show is crushed and shocked, we as viewers are able to make that prediction fairly quickly. We can determine quickly if someone is not as good of a singer as they think they are, or are not as skilled as the other contestants. So why are the people on the show always so surprised to receive negative feedback? Simple. They don’t know what they don’t know. 

 

Meta-cogni-whaa?

Metacognition is a fancy term for being aware of your own thoughts, feelings, or learning. People with strong metacognitive skills are able to accurately judge themselves in terms of their skills and knowledge. While on the other hand, individuals with poor metacognition, like those portrayed on TV shows, are often overconfident and overestimate their own abilities. But reality stars are not the only ones who do this, in fact, most people do! Take a trip back in time to high school. You put all of your effort into studying for finals and feel like you are a master of the material. They should pay you for how much you know. You walk out of the test like Tom Brady after a Superbowl and rush home to tell your parents that you aced it. Two weeks later you get your grade back and… you failed. But how?! You studied! You knew everything! Well… apparently not, but how could you be so wrong? Simple. You don’t know what you don’t know. 

 

Learning to learn 

In school, students aren’t taught to evaluate themselves, which leads to poor metacognition throughout life. Like the case of the reality stars’ inability to know his or her skill level, students lack the ability to accurately judge their own knowledge. They do not notice when they don’t understand something, and are therefore unable to take action in fixing it. This affects how much time students will dedicate to studying, contributes to creating a false sense of understanding material and like the cases illustrated above, ultimately may lead to incorrect judgement of performance.  Metacognition not only means accurately evaluating yourself, but also knowing how you learn best. 

 

According to research studies, only 10% of people learn auditorily. Meaning, they can listen to someone speak about a concept, absorb it, and then apply it to novel situations. That means that the other 90% of people learn in other ways (i.e. Spatially, Linguistically, Kinesthetically, Mathematically, Interpersonally, Intrapersonally). Interesting then, that 80% of teaching is done through lecturing. How can we expect students to find success if those in charge of their education are not providing them opportunities to learn how they learn and evaluate themselves in the process? 

 

Ethan Allen Preparatory, is flipping the table on old and ineffective teaching techniques that lead to poor metacognitive skills. We value all learners and use a variety of delivery models beyond lecturing to grow student-athlete’s unique styles for absorbing information. We encourage students to take control of their learning from the start, and to test different methods that do and do not work for them. These range from multimedia videos to one-on-one instruction and hands on activities. Most importantly, we help students become aware of their own thinking and understanding by providing many opportunities to monitor and evaluate themselves. By giving many low-stakes assessments, students and teachers can judge what they do and don’t know, and have the ability to take action before it is too late. 

 

We have the power to know what we don’t know. We can use thinking about our thoughts to learn how we learn, and avoid becoming the next failed reality tv star, or the next student who prematurely announces an “A”.  Now that we know what we don’t know, learning can be more effective for everyone. 

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Ethan Allen Preparatory, Ridgefield CT
24 April
2020
  • April 24, 2020

Changing the Game: Standardized
Testing and Student Athletes

It is frustrating and scary to be in the unknown, and millions of high school scholar athletes are facing the uncertainties that lie ahead, especially when it comes to college applications and recruitment. The National Collegiate College Association (NCAA) has strict eligibility requirements for athletes who wish to compete at Division I and II schools, that include a minimum standardized test score from either the SAT or ACT. As a result of COVID-19,  neither of these tests are currently being administered. This means some high school seniors may have missed their last chance to raise their scores for admissions this summer and juniors who want to apply to colleges early will have fewer opportunities to take the tests. Unlike the non-athlete student, who only has to meet college board requirements for applications, student athletes must meet those requirements in addition to those of the NCAA. 

Caught between a rock and a hard place, last week, the NCAA released a statement saying  current high school seniors, class of 2019-2020, are eligible to play college sports without providing SAT/ACT scores. I’m sure seniors on their third or fourth attempts to raise their SAT scores to become eligible athletes are sighing in relief. However, there is significant uncertainty among the current high school juniors who have not received such exemption from the NCAA. For the time being, the College Board is planning to continue testing when schools reopen in the fall. In the unlikely event that schools are unable to open, a digital form of the SAT will be available for students to complete at home. Many universities are pushing back application deadlines, giving students more time to take the tests and submit their scores, while some colleges and universities are changing their requirements all together. 

Goodbye testing?
There has been a “test optional” movement in the past few years, and some universities are using this time to experiment making this model permanent. Without test scores, student athletes may stand a better chance in the application process. Admissions officers would have to take a more holistic approach to evaluating a student’s fit at their school. There would be an even greater emphasis on extracurricular activities, and sports would contribute to creating a profile that stands out along with solid grades, leadership, and community service. Students would not be dismissed from consideration for admission based on one test score, but would be evaluated on their ability to create a strong academic profile that is interesting to admissions officers. Students would have to be creative to make themselves seen, as well as learn life skills that contribute to an increasingly important college interview process. By going test optional, more students would have the opportunity to stand out as individuals rather than be normed by a standardized testing system, and schools all over would be more ethnically and intellectually diverse. 

Now what?
As for the future of testing, we can only wait and see. The NCAA says that they will continue to adjust and make decisions based on research, fairness, and equity among students. So, take a deep breath, and know everyone is feeling the same uneasiness. College admissions boards and coaches are people who are also being impacted by this pandemic. They want to work with you, and may be giving more attention than ever, considering the data that supports the increasing number of individuals who are re-thinking attending college next year, or even at all. They will be flexible and understanding as everyone makes their way down this unpaved path. 

At Ethan Allen Preparatory, we are encouraging our students to put their health and mental well being first and foremost. It is not worth creating stress over something that there is little to no control over. Instead, we are shifting our focus to areas we can control! Due to our established online delivery model, our students are still able to earn grades in their courses that contribute to their overall grade point averages. And, just as they are continuing to practice their golf game, they are staying sharp with their SAT skills by engaging in our virtual EAP classroom. If your student is wondering if they should still be preparing for standardized tests, or unsure how, please reach out for information! 

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Ethan Allen Preparatory, Ridgefield CT
17 April
2020
  • April 17, 2020

Get in the Zone (of Proximal
Development)

Kitchen tables across the country continue to accumulate worksheets as parents grapple with this unforeseeable shift in their daily routines. Crumpled miscalculations intersect with sloppily jotted “eureka” ideas and parents are left to mediate between these diametric experiences with online learning. We are collectively facing the largest disruption to America’s education system, with parents on the forefront of this meliorism, lending an unprecedented amount of attention to the scholarship of their children. Parents are becoming teachers, guidance counselors, and (on bad days) school security officers. Recognizing this added pressure to the already stressful task of raising good humans, Ethan Allen Preparatory hopes to provide some tools to make the learning process less stressful and, dare we say, fun for both students and parents!

No Pain, No Gain? Try no Game, no Gain.
Let’s revisit the kitchen table. I want you to picture your child as “the perfect student.” What do you see? Silent determination, maybe? Perhaps you’re envisioning a focused, stoic teenager tirelessly producing and advancing from one assignment to the next with little lag time and zero error. Well, this vignette is painting the picture of someone who is dangerously close to exiting the Zone of Proximal Development. Let’s define this term:

Zone of Proximal Development: the difference between what a learner can do without help and what he or she can achieve with guidance and encouragement from a skilled partner.

Zone of Proximal Development

The Zone of Proximal Development, theorized by Soviet psychologist and social constructivist Lev Vygotsky, is the “sweet spot” of learning. This is where you want your student to be. It’s where confidence is born and where motivation is bolstered. Well, how do you help your student get in the zone? Make learning a game.

There are great resources available online to make games out of academic content. My favorite is a free, online jeopardy game that allows you to study for assessments by formulating your own questions and answers based on your assignments (https://www.playfactile.com/). This works by forcing students to honestly assess what they know and what they don’t know. In doing so, they exercise their memory recall, which typically only occurs during testing periods. The development of creative questions competes with memory recall for the most consequential facet of this learning process. Be sure to emphasize the importance of developing creative questions because it will help your student process and consolidate the information. Have them spend at least 45 minutes making their game, then play it together as a family! Creating academic games establishes an achievable challenge, accentuating effort-related improvement. With each correct answer, the brain will reward this effort with a rush of dopamine, reinforcing the learning process. If your student is not sold yet, maybe the mascot selection will entice them to give it a try.

Make learning a game - Ethan Allen Prep, Ridgefield CT

 

We are all lifelong learners. Our knowledge inevitably builds on itself as we age. The act of processing, compartmentalizing, and later calling upon new information is an unavoidable part of the human existence. The greatest disservice we could do to school-aged children is to equate the acquisition of new knowledge with displeasure. During this quarantine, parents are in a unique position to model a positive attitude toward education. This conduct could impact your child’s mindset toward school and learning for years to come. So, EAP encourages you to have fun getting in the zone (of proximal development)!

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