Focus 2 Achieve

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I blog on Brain-Based Learning, Metacognition, and Social-Emotional Learning. I am the author of "Crush School: Every Student's Guide To Killing It In The Classroom" which is a book that helps students understand how their brain processes information and learns. In the book, I explain why students can learn anything and give strategies on how to learn effectively.

Week 1 Of School - Use The KISS Method

By Oskar Cymerman | @focus2achieve | BAM! Radio Network & Teaching Channel Blogger

Keep It Simple Stupid. That's what my favorite high school teacher Mr. Dennis would say. He was a big believer in the KISS Method.

He was right. Humans have a tendency to over-complicate things. And we stress too much, mainly as a result of our intricate approach to things. Or maybe it's just me.

In any case...

My chemistry classes spend the first 2 days of the school year on a community building project (Who Am I Project). I played music in the background and walked around helping and chatting with my new students. I am getting to know them instead of talking at them. It felt good. It feels good now.

Transitioning to flexible seating for the first time, I was afraid it would be more difficult to learn students' names, but I'm finding out I am learning their names faster. It maybe a result of being less rushed and feeling less stressed. Again, most of that hurry and stress was self created.

Day 3 Lesson Plan:

Day 3 of School Lesson Plan

I tweeted the syllabus to the #Cymdogchem hashtag I created. This is where class notes, lesson agendas, and "snapshots of learning" will be.

My class syllabus was always filled with enough information to overwhelm, which rendered it useless. Oh, and I would ramble on about it for half an hour or more, because apparently I wanted to numb my students up for whatever pain they were about to experience in their next class.

Not this year. This year I kept it simple. There will be time to talk grades, percentages, topics, expectations etc. It's day 3 and I have not talked about these things yet. And the world still spins. And I'm seeing students smile. And they pay attention when I ask them to. And we're all way less stressed.

Here's the syllabus:

Chemistry Class Syllabus

Real simple. It's in Google Classroom labeled "Admin" for students and parents to view any time. It gives them the relevant contact info (emails, Twitter, class blog), the focus on the 4 Cs, and the supplies needed. These are the most relevant things. Grades, percentages, and topics will come up naturally later.

And expectations?

Class Rules: Just Be Awesome

Simple, yet complex. We'll talk on day 4. That's tomorrow. And start some matter too. It's time. It will be an awesome day. And an awesome year. Till then.

Thanks for reading and Happy New School Year. If you liked some of my ideas you might want to SIGN UP for my NEWSLETTER and I'll drop more of them straight in your email inbox.

And I want you to always remember this when you look into the eyes of the children you teach:

You have the power to change the world. Use it often.