Ensure success: Prime em!

Students do better when they feel successful and confident. We want our students to experience success and not feel embarrassed.

Don’t catch them off guard – let them think about it ahead of time

Priming is simply alerting students ahead of time 

A nice example is pose pounce bounce link from Teacher Toolkit. It looks like this:

Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce in cartoon, by @TeacherToolkit

Try it!


Preserve dignity: Give em an out

FullSizeRender 4Ever called on a student and she didn’t know the answer? There’s that awkward few seconds when you and all the other students are waiting for a response and she just can’t find the words.

When a student doesn’t know the answer, the last thing you want is to have her feel embarrassed or humiliated. Even if she “should know” the answer, you’ve gotta give ’em an out.

The next time a student is struggling to answer, try:

  • “Do you want to call on someone else for help?” and let them choose a peer to answer the question.
  • “I’ll give you another couple minutes and come back to you” and really give them the time and circle back later to ensure they understand.
  • “It’s OK to say ‘I’m not sure.'” and allow them to say they don’t know.

This kind of approach helps preserve students’ dignity in the classroom. Embarrassed students do not regularly volunteer to participate. Send the message to the whole class that it’s safe to try, and you’ll get much more participation.

Concretize: Make it actionable

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 10.41.18 PM

Students being confused leads to mistakes, work avoidance, and —all things teachers want to avoid.

The best ways to reduce confusion is to make directions as clear as possible.

Make directions CONCRETE: start every direction with a verb.

So instead of:

worksheet pg 72



And in place of


write outline