Overcoming the Fear of Mastery Learning (video)

Tiffany OttBlog, Competency Based Learning, Innovation, Mastery Learning, Self-Paced Learning, Video

Overcoming the Fear of Mastery Learning - Video

Is fear stopping you from implementing mastery learning in your classroom?

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You’re going to have to use a little bit more energy for a little while, and then you can push through and do these really amazing things in education. Click To Tweet

Full transcript below video.

Cover image by Cam Adams on Unsplash

Video Transcript

Hey guys! Tiffany Ott here, and today we are going to talk about a super duper important topic. Fear.

Now, I’m not talking about fear in our students, we have a lot of strategies for dealing with that, right. So test anxiety, tons of resources for helping our students cope with test anxiety. What I’m talking about today is fear in teachers. Fear in ourselves.

I’m a part of the team with Progressive Mastery Learning and we travel all around the country working with teachers trying to improve their teaching and learning practices, and something we do a lot is we talk about mastery learning, and we see a lot of push back, we see a lot of fear from teachers when it comes to implementing a mastery learning approach, like The Grid Method, and so we always have to ask ourselves, where does that fear come from, because honestly a big part of our job at these trainings is helping teachers push past that fear and get through it.

So today we’re going to talk about where that fear comes from, and what you can do to overcome that fear. So here we go.

This right here is the brain. It weighs about three pounds and it takes up maybe 2% of the body weight of an average adult. Right, not a lot, just a little bit of space that the brain takes up. But did you know that the brain actually consumes 20% of the body’s energy? It is so greedy, it’s like a little piggy up there a little piggy brain saying, “Give me energy! Give me energy!” and so the brain needs so much energy because it does so much work! Thinking burns calories, and there’s a lot of thinking involved with staying alive. So over the years the brain has become really really good at becoming very efficient. It doesn’t waste time on excess tasks, right, it doesn’t do very well when you ask it to do a lot of things at once. Multitasking, the brain says nope, that’s not efficient, we’re going to do a terrible job at it. That’s why a lot of things about life are automated, it’s why breathing and digestion is automated. It’s also why sometimes when you’re driving to work you go on autopilot, and you go to I don’t know, the grocery store, because the brain automates as much as it can. Conserving that energy with active thinking.

So when we go into schools and we say to teachers, administrators, we say hey, you need to change pretty much everything about the way you teach and learn, we need to really transform the learning environment in this school, there’s that fear, the brain says woah woah woah, you’re asking me to rethink pretty much everything about teaching and learning, you’re asking me to think really really hard to change my mindset, and you’re asking me to design new units, instructional processes, and really change the way I function in my classroom.

So this brain, this greedy energy hog, says I’m going to automate as much as I can, the brain says we don’t want to do that, so I’m going to put the brakes on that. The brain says hold up we are going to do something that’s going to make this person not want to make that change, and what the brain does, is it gives us fear. Right, it says, I don’t want to do this so you’re going to be afraid of this, you’re going to be nervous about it, you’re going to be anxious about it. I’m going to make it really uncomfortable for you to change the way you think, and that’s the brain’s response, and it’s just self preservation, this brain’s just trying to keep us alive, right, but it kind of does some harm when were trying to really do innovative, progressive, educational approaches.

So why am I telling you all about this brain and all about the wacky things it does? Because I find that once you know, once you understand the biology of how the brain works and why it makes us fearful of these new experiences, you can start pushing past them, you have the logic, you have the reason, you have the understanding of how the brain works and you can say hey brain I know that you’re doing this because you’re afraid it’s going to take too much energy, but we’re going to do it anyway because it’s what’s best for students.”

I use this same approach with students, I teach brain science when it comes to growth mindset, or when it comes to test anxiety, and just understanding the way their mind works, helps them push through those things, and helps them work with their brain to achieve great things. So I’m telling you, that you can do the same thing. You can get into an argument with your brain, you can say, “Hey brain, this is what’s best for kids, I’m going to do it. You’re going to have to use a little bit more energy for a little while, and then you can push through and do these really amazing things in education.

So when we get this fear, when we feel this fear of trying something new like mastery learning, we need to say here’s the brain science, here’s what’s happening, I’m going to do it anyway. Because it’s right for kids.

Thanks for watching, make sure that you like the video and you click subscribe so that you can keep getting awesome content from us, and next time you’re asked to do something new in education, and you feel that anxiety, you feel that frustration, you feel that fear, push through it, tell your brain to be quiet, get over it, and do awesome things for kids.