Currently Reading: 12 Brain/Mind Principles in Action: Developing Executive Functions of the Human Brain.
Why is relaxed alertness important?
Relaxed alertness is the brain's optimum state for learning. Children learn best when in a state of relaxed alertness.
What is relaxed alertness?
Relaxed alertness is when a learner is put into a state of being where they feel comfortable yet experience a high level of challenge. Experiencing relaxed alertness often starts out with students experiencing small successes, but after multiple successes- it becomes a way of thinking and learning that seems natural for the student. When relaxed alertness becomes a way of life for a student, it's actually easier for them to learn new things.
Students who experience relaxed alertness believe in themselves and always want to challenge themselves to be better than the day before. They also bounce back easily from failures; possibly because of their confidence based on previous successes. Finally, they take charge of their learning by setting goals for themselves and using strategies they've learned to help them be good problem solvers.
How can I help my students achieve relaxed alertness?
1. Give them frequent, specific, positive feedback on what they are doing well on in class. 5 positives to 1 corrective!
2. Help students set goals within your class and reward their progress towards a goal. For example, students practice fluency daily in our classroom. Once weekly they DIBEL'd and are shown their score and how it relates to the aim line drawn on their book. They know how they are progressing towards their goal. However I thought it would help them on their daily fluency reads to draw an aim line on the graphs they were using to record their daily scores. They are more motivated and are becoming very confident each time they exceed their goal!
3. Make your classroom a low-threat environment. Encourage students to take risks and let them know that it's OK to make mistakes- that's how we learn!