Teachers need to draw more pictures
Not too long ago, I was interviewing a student who was struggling in all of his classes. His behavior was disruptive and, consequently, he was frequently removed from class. I was brought in to review his files and create a complete profile and recommendations. After striking up a conversation with this young man, I told him that I would be talking with his teachers. I asked, “If there was one thing that you’d want me to tell your teachers, something that might help you, what would it be?”
Without hesitation he replied, “Teachers need to draw pictures more.” I asked him to elaborate. He explained, “Yesterday, my science teacher was teaching about waste treatment plants. She talked and talked and talked. It was so boring and hard to understand. If I were her, I would have drawn a picture of what she was describing on the board.” He then took a paper and pencil and drew a diagram for me. He slid it across the table to me and explained what he drew. “That’s what I wish she’d do. It would really help me to understand better.”
I was in awe at his forthrightness and ability to immediately tell me what he needed from his teachers. I did share that information with them and when I returned six weeks later, they said he was a totally different kid. I asked what was different. They smiled and said, “We are drawing and using more pictures.”
The Feedback Box
So, how can we provide a safe way for students to share how they learn best?
Have a “Feedback Box.” Tell students, no matter their age, “Anytime I use a strategy in a way that you believe it helps you to learn, write me a little note telling me what worked and put it in the Feedback Box.” For example, “Drawing pictures in class today really helped me to learn, Mrs. Fitzell.” “Singing that song helped me to remember that formula.” With this type of feedback, I was able to better understand how to help individual students learn.
Don’t stop with your classroom
Tell students, “If you go to another classroom and work with another teacher, or if you do something at home that helps you to learn, put that in the feedback box, too!
What we end up with is powerful feedback from students about their learning style that we might never get any other way. It gives us a little bit more information to use in our classrooms.
Parents Benefit from the Feedback Box Too!
Parents could also implement the “Feedback Box” at home. How often do parents ask, “What did you learn in school today?” and the reply is, “Nothing.” Encourage youth to write what they learned (or their favorite learning activity) down on a sticky note and put it in the Feedback Box.
For more information about study strategies for your student, see Susan Fitzell’s book, Ummm, Studying? What’s That?. Available in both print and electronic versions!