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Monday, November 02, 2015

Matt McCullough: 4 lessons from 'Most Likely to Succeed'

"Proud, flexible thinking and collaborative members of our global community will be necessary to keep our state and country competitive in the future." according to Matt McCullough, assistant principal at Onsted High School. 

Some of the panelists at the Adrian College screening of "Most Likely to Succeed" included (from left) Michelle Hiscock, Matt McCullough, Ted Dintersmith, Andrea R. Milner, Gary Koppelman and Ann Smart. 
Photo: The Daily Telegram

I had the pleasure of helping to host a screening of “Most Likely to Succeed” this past week along with the Institute for Education staff at Adrian College. As a member of the expert panel I was able to participate in a question and answer session following the viewing through which I have came to the following four take-aways:

1. The goal of educators everywhere must be to guide their students to say “I want to finish this and be proud of it.” Too often students proceed from class to class, day to day, and grade to grade only performing tasks out of habit and obedience. The development of assignments and authentic checks for understanding in public venues is a must.

If students are working toward presenting their learning to someone in the community or field of study they then are excited to showcase their learning.

The thrill of being told by a “stranger” or respected member of your field “great job...” is much more powerful than a mark in a teacher’s grade book.

Students must be led into learning experiences that give them a sense of purpose.

2. “How can you teach kids to make decisions if you never let them make decisions for themselves?”

This paraphrased portion of the film really speaks to flexibility in lessons and tests in schools. There are multiple ways to teach all subjects and also to assess them. As educators we must begin to allow student strengths and interests to guide them through the process of learning so they feel invested and motivated during the process. If the standard/goal of the lesson is to see if students understand the causes and effects of World War II, give them the vocabulary and big ideas that must be incorporated and allow them to be creative. Students may surprise you by creating video games, videos, theater pieces, short stories, music pieces, comics, poetry, talk shows or a website displaying their understanding of the causes and effects of WWII. Why wouldn’t we allow them this choice and instead limit them to a standardized bubble test?

Source: The Daily Telegram

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