Susan Riley | May 2015

Teacher Tip: Isolate the Struggle

Have you ever gotten ready for a lesson that you knew was going to be tough for your students?

You know the feeling-you dread teaching it almost as much as the students dread the moment when the content gets too hard.  We’ve all hit that wall as teachers, and it can be one of the most frustrating times in the year.  None of us WANT to see our students get overly frustrated.

In today’s EducationCloset On-Demand episode, I’m sharing a teacher tip for rearranging your design that will make this kind of lesson so much easier.  It’s called Isolate the Struggle, it truly helps to transform how I planned and executed the most difficult lessons in my curriculum.

Essentially, you identify the concept that is going to be most challenging in your lesson and move it up front as a warm-up to get your students ready for the lesson itself.  It’s important that you have students practice the concept in many different ways as part of the warm-up process – sketch it, write it, play it, etc.  This takes the pressure off and helps students to know that they are just practicing for the “real” lesson itself.  Once they get to this same challenge area in the actual lesson, they have already had a bit of time and experience with that concept, making it easier for them in the context of what they are learning.

About the Author

Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, STEAM, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education. Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter. Email Susan