Sticking With Students: Responding Effectively to Incorrect Answers

“Who can tell me the name of the spider’s anatomy that it uses to spin a web?”

A number of hands shot up. “Sarah? Can you tell me?”

“The spider’s abdomen?”

“Oh. Very close, but that’s not quite right. Who can tell me the correct name?”

More hands shot up. Sarah slouched visibly. Another student gave the right answer (“the spinnerette”), but it did not seem as if Sarah even heard it.

This scene is taken from my visit to a veteran teacher’s 1st grade classroom. It represents interactions I have seen many times while observing teachers, as well as in my own teaching: A teacher poses a question, the student offers an incorrect answer, and the teacher moves on to another student to provide the correct answer.

I recently read the book The Skillful Teacher by Jonathan Saphier, Mary Ann Haley-Speca, and Robert Gower, in which the authors discuss the concept of “sticking with a student.” With this method, instead of the typical response of moving on, the teacher keeps his or her attention and focus with the student who provided the incorrect answer and uses a variety of strategies to help that student reach the right answer. For instance, the teacher might validate what is right or good about an incorrect answer and then offer the student a cue.

In the above example with Sarah, here’s a way that the teacher might have responded in order to stick with her:

“Wow, Sarah, that’s excellent thinking. The body part that the spider uses to spin webs is located in the spider’s abdomen, so you were very close. However, the answer was not quite right. It’s a long word and it starts with /sp/. Would you like to try again?”

Other ways of sticking with a student, according to the authors, include restating the question and giving additional think time before asking the student to try again.

A Positive Message

After reading about this idea of sticking with a student, I began incorporating the authors’ strategies into my own practice. When I tuned into my internal reaction when a student gave an incorrect answer, I noticed that it caused a slight feeling of anxiety in me. It can be an uncomfortable moment for a teacher when a student demonstrates confusion, and the natural inclination is to diminish that discomfort for both the teacher and the student. Moving on to another student makes an awkward moment pass quickly and allows the lesson to move along.

However, as I began observing teachers and paying attention to the body language of students whose teachers did not stick with them, I began to realize the damaging effects of moving along. Conversely, I saw that when a teacher sticks with a student, the student receives a positive message: “I believe in you. I will not give up on you. I have high expectations for you.”

In my own teaching, however, I found that when I stuck with a student, I had to pay attention to my body language, tone of voice, and rate of speech. If I conveyed any sort of urgency or frustration, sticking with a student began to feel more like putting a student in the hot seat. It became a high-pressure interaction, particularly when a student legitimately did not know the answer, regardless of the amount of cueing I provided.

In a successful sticking-with-a-student session, I first praised the student’s thinking in an excited tone, and then presented my cueing—and eye contact—in a way that addressed all students (i.e., “Let’s all think a little more about that”). I also worked hard to keep my expression and body language relaxed so that the student did not feel any tension. Sometimes, especially with math problems, I took a moment to do a quick review of the steps a student could take to arrive at the correct answer, as it was likely that other students were experiencing the same kind of confusion.

Changing the Classroom Energy

I realized there were also steps that I could take preemptively to help my students avoid these wrong-answer moments entirely. Providing wait time before calling on anyone was one effective strategy, particularly for my students who were English-language learners. To ensure I provided enough wait time, I counted to seven in my head, and observed how many hands went up.

I also found that having students take a moment to do a “turn and talk” with a partner before I called on anyone gave them time to process the question and practice their responses. A turn-and-talk session also gave me an opportunity to listen in on the responses of multiple children, as opposed to just the one child I called on. Giving students individual whiteboards to hold up also took the pressure off of them to produce verbal responses.

When all else failed I had to know when to give the student—and the rest of the class—the correct answer. And, again, when I supplied the correct answer I made sure to do it with a facial expression and tone of voice that did not inadvertently convey any sort of frustration or displeasure. In some instances I would have everyone repeat the answer with me, and then make mental notes for reteaching. Incorrect answers can provide helpful feedback on how well a lesson has been absorbed by the class, as more than one student will tend to make the same mistake.

In sticking with students, I found I changed the energy in my classroom. The quiet, shy students began taking more risks because it was no longer scary to supply a wrong answer. Wrong answers became opportunities for growth for all of us. I even began to occasionally make purposeful mistakes in my teaching, only to have my students gently correct me (with many giggles). “See?” I would say, “Even teachers make mistakes. It’s how we learn and get better at things.”

Sticking With Students: Responding Effectively to Incorrect Answers

Posted in Teaching.

Your Secret Weapon for Career Success

Your Secret Weapon for Career Success

by  December 15, 2013 — 0 Comments
Career Advisory

The business world is tough—especially if you want to rise through the ranks and put yourself on an executive path. If you’re ambitious and want to build a great career, it’s going to take hard work and lots of it.

The good news is that all that hard work should pay off over time. The better news? There’s something else you can do to make your career path easier to navigate, more successful, and even more enjoyable. That something is building your own career advisory board, and it’s a strategy I recommend to everyone, no matter what stage you’re at in your career.

A career advisory board is a group of people in your industry—both seasoned professionals and contacts just a few years ahead of you—who agree to act as mentors to you as you grow in your profession. It generally starts as something small and casual, with you reaching out as you need help dealing with an issue at work or a career decision. However, as you build your career, it has the potential to become something much larger and more formal (think the President’s Cabinet).

Related: Your Boss, or Your Mentor? Why You Should Know the Difference

The benefit of having a “board” versus just one or two mentors is that you can draw from a diversified set of experiences and expertise. Say, for example, you’re deciding whether to gun for a promotion at your current company or take a management job with a competitor. What better way to navigate such a complicated decision than to have multiple perspectives on the best way to move forward?

Despite the obvious benefits, I’m amazed by how few people actually take the time to build an advisory board for themselves. If you’re sold on the concept, here are a few steps to get you started.


1. Mine Your Contacts

If you’ve already been in the workforce for a few years, chances are you already have some current or potential mentors that could fit the bill for your advisory board. You want your board to be somewhat diversified in terms of expertise and industry knowledge, so start by identifying candidates from your own network—old bosses, former colleagues, friends who are in a similar field—then figure out where the gaps are. This should help you narrow your focus when you go to identify new board members.


2. Network in a Targeted Way

Building the rest of your advisory board starts with building a broader network, which most people do in a happenstance way. They attend a cocktail party, collect a few business cards, and perhaps even connect on LinkedIn. And while they may amass a large quantity of new contacts, if the quality’s not there, it can translate to a lot of wasted time and effort.

Instead, try building your network with the end result in mind. Start by identifying people in your industry and function who you think could be potential mentors, then work backward to figure out how to meet them. An easy way to make inroads is to find a “common interest contact.” For example, if your target works at ABC Corp, try to find another person at ABC Corp who has something in common with you—perhaps you went to the same business school, served in the same branch of the military, or even play soccer in the same weekend league. Find that person (or multiple people) and reach out, explaining what you have in common and asking if they want to connect in order to expand both of your professional networks. Eventually, as that relationship grows, you can ask for an intro to your original target.

Related: 4 Ways to Make a Real Connection When Networking


3. Make the Ask

Once you’ve connected with your potential mentors, you’ll want to officially ask them to be a part of your advisory board.

Exactly how you approach this will completely depend on the relationship you have with that person. For example, you might be explicit: “I’m building out my own personal advisory network, and I’d like to know if I can stay in touch with you a little more often.” Or you might keep it casual: “As I build my career, would it be okay if I bounced ideas off of you from time to time?”

Related: Be My Mentor? Craft the Perfect Email to Someone You Admire

If the mentor says yes, be ready to set expectations for future communications. The cadence and format, again, will depend on the mentor and his or her availability and preferences. For some board members, you may be able to set up a monthly coffee date or a quarterly Skype call. For others, you may just want to reach out from time to time when you have big issues or decisions on the horizon.


4. Set Realistic Goals

This process may sound straightforward enough, but if you’re extremely busy or introverted, it may seem nearly impossible to execute. But give yourself a break, because career advisory boards are not built overnight. Start by setting reasonable goals—say, meeting two people in your industry within the next three months—and go from there.

Even these small wins can bear fruit. First, you’ll continue to build your broader network, which is always a good thing. Eventually, you’ll land one mentor, and one is better than none. And over time, one mentor can turn into three, then perhaps even five or 10. But you have to start somewhere and give it continual effort.


Once your board starts to take shape, you can start to reap the rewards of having this strategy in place. Keep in touch with your board members on a regular basis, start documenting professional challenges you want to run by them, and keep track of how things go when you use their advice—they’ll appreciate hearing that their guidance has helped you. And above all, say thank you often and in many ways.

Yes, the business world is tough, but you don’t have to face it alone. Building a career advisory board isn’t an easy or fast process, but it’s worth the time and effort. And in the end, all the connections you’ve made along the way will give you the edge you need to rise to the top.

Posted in Motivation.

10 Phrases Great Speakers Never Say

While it’s really hard to immediately win over a crowd, it’s really easy for a speaker to lose the room within the first few minutes of a presentation.

To make sure you don’t lose your audience, here’s Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, serial entrepreneur and founder of TwitterCounter and The Next Web, with ten things you should never say during your presentations:

1. “I’m jet-lagged/tired/hungover.”

Not sure where this comes from, but one in five presentations at any conference starts with an excuse: “They only invited me yesterday,” or, “I’m really tired from my trip,” or some other lame excuse the audience really doesn’t want to hear.

We, the audience, just want to see you give it your best. If you feel like crap and can’t give it your best, maybe you should have cancelled. Take a pill, drink an espresso and kill it!

2. “Can you hear me? Yes you can!”

This is how many people start their talks. They tap a microphone three times, shout, “Can you all hear me in the back?” and then smile apologetically when it becomes clear that, yes everybody can hear them, but no one raised their hand.

It isn’t your responsibility to check the audio. There are people for that. (And if there aren’t, test the volume ahead of time.)

But if you do speak into the microphone and get the impression it’s not working, just relax, count to three, and try again. If you still think the sound isn’t working, calmly walk to the edge of the stage and discreetly ask the moderator to check for you.

Throughout, smile at the audience and look confident. Assume everything works until proven otherwise, then stay calm and wait for a fix.

3. “I can’t see you because the lights are too bright.”

Yes, when you are on stage the lights are bright and hot and it will be difficult to see the audience. But they don’t have to know about all that.

Just stare into the dark, smile often, and act like you feel right at home. Feel free to walk into the audience if you want to see them up close.

And don’t cover your eyes to see people but politely ask the lights person to turn up the lights in the room if you want to count hands or ask the audience a question. Even better, talk to the lights people in advance so they know when you will ask them to raise the lights.

4. “I’ll get back to that later.”

If you happen to stumble on an audience eager to learn and interact, grab that chance and enjoy it. If someone has a question you will address in a later slide just skip to it right away.

If someone is brave enough to raise their hand and ask you a question, compliment them and invite the rest of the audience to do the same. Never delay anything.

5. “Can you read this?”

The common rule is to make the font size on your slides twice the size of the average age of the audience. Yes, that means that if you expect the audience to be 40 then on average you are stuck with a font size of 80 points.

You won’t be able to fit a lot of text on the slide, which is a good thing and brings us to the next point.

6. “Let me read this out loud for you.”

Never ever, ever, ever in a million years add so much text to a slide that people will spend time reading it. And if you do, make damn sure you don’t read it out loud for them.

The best way to lose your audience’s attention is to add text to a slide. Here’s what happens when you have more than four words on a slide: people start reading it. And what happens when start reading? They stop listening to you.

Only use short titles on slides, and memorize any text you want the audience to read. Or, if you must include an awesome three-sentence quote, announce that everyone should read the quote and then be quiet for six to ten seconds so they can actually read it.

7. “Shut off your phone/laptop/tablet.”

Once upon a time you could ask an audience to shut off their devices. Not anymore. Now people tweet the awesome quotes you produce or take notes on their iPads. Or they play solitaire or check Facebook.

You can ask for the audience to turn their phones to silent mode, but apart from that you just have to make sure that your talk is so incredibly inspiring they will close their laptops because they don’t want to miss a second.

Demanding attention doesn’t work. Earn attention instead.

8. “You don’t need to write anything down or take photos; the presentation will be online later.”

It is really cool that you will upload your presentation later. But if it’s a good presentation it won’t contain too many words (see point 4) and won’t be of much use to the audience.

For many people the act of writing is an easy way to memorize something they’ve heard. In short, allow people to do whatever they want during your presentations.

9. “Let me answer that question.”

Of course it is awesome if you answer a question right away, but you need to do something else first. Often the question from an audience member will be clear to you but not to the rest of the audience.

So please say, “I’ll repeat that question first so everybody can hear it,” and then answer it.

Plus, when you make a habit of repeating questions, that gives you a little more time to think of an awesome answer.

10. “I’ll keep it short.”

This is a promise no one keeps. But a lot of presentations start that way!

The audience really doesn’t care if you keep it short or not. They’ve invested their time and just want to be informed and inspired. So say, “This presentation is going to change your life,” or, “This presentation is scheduled to take 30 minutes, but I’ll do it in 25 minutes so you can go out and have a coffee earlier than expected.”

Then all you have to do is keep that promise, which brings me to the last point.

Bonus tip: “What, I’m out of time? But I have 23 more slides!”

If you come unprepared and need more time than allowed, you’ve screwed up. You must practice your presentation and make it fit within the allotted time.

Better yet, end five minutes early and ask if anyone has questions. If they don’t, invite them for a coffee to talk one-on-one. Giving an audience five minutes back earns their respect and gratitude. Taking an extra five annoys and alienates them.

Conclusion: come prepared, be yourself and be professional. The audience will love you for being clear, for being serious, and for not wasting their time

Posted in Motivation.

The Eight Archetypes of Leadership

The Eight Archetypes of Leadership

by Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries  |   9:00 AM December 18, 2013 -

Although the ghost of the Great Man still haunts leadership studies, most of us have recognized by now that successful organizations are the product of distributive, collective, and complementary leadership. The first step in putting together such a team is to identify each member of the team’s personality makeup and leadership style, so that strengths and competences can be matched to particular roles and challenges. Getting this match wrong can bring misery to all concerned and cause considerable damage.

I was once asked to facilitate in a group coaching intervention for the leadership team at the subsidiary of a large chemical company. A year before Kate (not her real name, the head of the subsidiary) had been moved from head office to take charge. At head office she had always been viewed as a person extremely insightful about personnel decisions. Given her talents in HR, she was seen a good candidate to sort out the mess in that particular subsidiary. It was a big leap in terms of promotion but Kate was given a chance.

Unfortunately, I quickly realized that her tenure had been a disaster. She may have been a good coach but didn’t have what it takes to create greater strategic focus and execute a turnaround. A great amount of money had been spent on consultants and on training a workforce that had no clearer idea at the end of 12 months what they were doing or why. What had dazzled the people at head office had been Kate’s coaching and communication skills. She was at sea, however, in a more operational role.

What can be done to prevent a situation like the one with Kate? There are a number of serious leadership questionnaires that are worlds away from the enneagrams and compatibility tests that litter the coaching circuit. Some of these try to identify certain recurring behavior patterns considered more or less effective in a leadership context. We have also tests to discover whether executives are people or task oriented, autocratic or democratic, transactional or transformational, and variations on all of these. These sorts of questionnaire may be a bit simplistic, but they can help point someone in the right direction on a career or organizational path.

My own approach to leadership assessment is based on observational studies of real leaders, mostly at the strategic apex of their organizations. My aim is to help them see and understand that their attitudes and interactions with people are the result of a complex confluence of their inner theater (including relationships with authority figures early in life), significant life experiences, examples set by other executives, and formal leadership training.

As these influences play out over time, one typically sees a number of recurring patterns of behavior that influence an individual’s effectiveness within an organization.  I think of these patterns as leadership “archetypes,” reflecting the various roles executives can play in organizations and it is a lack of fit between a leader’s archetype and the context in which he or she operates is a main cause of team and organizational dysfunctionality and executive failure.   The eight archetypes I have found to be most prominent are:

  • The strategist: leadership as a game of chess. These people are good at dealing with developments in the organization’s environment. They provide vision, strategic direction and outside-the-box thinking to create new organizational forms and generate future growth.
  • The change-catalyst: leadership as a turnaround activity. These executives love messy situations. They are masters at re-engineering and creating new organizational ‘‘blueprints.’’
  • The transactor: leadership as deal making. These executives are great dealmakers. Skilled at identifying and tackling new opportunities, they thrive on negotiations.
  • The builder: leadership as an entrepreneurial activity. These executives dream of creating something and have the talent and determination to make their dream come true.
  • The innovator: leadership as creative idea generation. These people are focused on the new. They possess a great capacity to solve extremely difficult problems.
  • The processor: leadership as an exercise in efficiency. These executives like organizations to be smoothly running, well-oiled machines. They are very effective at setting up the structures and systems needed to support an organization’s objectives.
  • The coach: leadership as a form of people development. These executives know how to get the best out of people, thus creating high performance cultures.
  • The communicator: leadership as stage management. These executives are great influencers, and have a considerable impact on their surroundings.

Working out which types of leaders you have on your team can work wonders for your effectiveness as a group.  It helps you to recognize how you and your colleagues can individually make their best contributions. This will in turn create a culture of mutual support and trust, reduce team stress and conflict, and make for more creative problem solving. It also informs your search for new additions to the team: what kinds of personality and skills are you missing?

Kate’s story had a happy ending. The group coaching session made it clear that the problem was not so much Kate’s lack of ability but rather that team lacked specific leadership qualities.  If the team incorporated an executive with a strategic outlook and who had turnaround skills and experience then Kate’s skills as a communicator and coach would be more effectively leveraged to resolve the subsidiary’s crisis. After talking to the head of talent management at head office we were able to identify exactly such a person, creating a more rounded team and helping Kate to fulfill her mandate.


Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries is the Distinguished Professor of Leadership Development and Organizational Change at INSEAD in France, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi. His most recent book is The Hedgehog Effect: The Secrets of Building High Performance Teams(Wiley, 2011).

Posted in Motivation.

Drop in Fortune 100 defined benefit plans continues: Towers Watson

Scary to see the drop in the corporate benefit plans all across various businesses:

Posted in Uncategorized.

How We Can Motivate Teachers? – Motivation For Teaching

coffee-alla-volodinaLike other educational experts Alla Volodina also believes that teachers are the key in any educational system. It is very important to have good teachers, if we want to encourage our students for creative learning and better study skills. However, with constant working, teachers and get tired and can lose their interest in teaching. They teach students but forget to guide them about how to learn to study. In this situation, it is very important to motive teachers. Alla Volodina is discussing some important points how to motivate business and accounting teachers teaching at the high school level. 

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Posted in Motivation, Teaching.

Teaching Accounting – Some Interesting Strategies

Teaching is a serious and important job and when it comes to subjects like accounting, it becomes even more serious. It is different from teaching science or any other subject. Alla Volodina understands that, and that is why she is discussing some interesting strategies, which are related to teaching accounting.
When a teacher teaches accounting, his focus should be not only on enhancing the study skills but he has to offer his students other opportunities like working in pairs. Teaching accounting is not only about creative learning but also other skills like speaking out and teamwork are also important. How to learn to study is as important as all the above stated factors. These few lines by Alla Volodina will help you to learn different strategies, which are quite helpful for accounting teachers.
Posted in Uncategorized.

Allla Volodina Pick Of The Week – Personal Finance


A Big Push for Mandatory Personal Finance Classes in School

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With nations like Australia and the U.K. having voted to make financial education mandatory in their school systems, the U.S. is moving aggressively to re-assert leadership on this important front in the global fight against financial illiteracy.

Last week, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unveiled Transforming the Financial Lives of a Generation of Young Americans, white paper with specific recommendations for advancing financial education in grades K-12. Meanwhile, the Treasury Department has just gone live with, a website offering teachers ready-made personal finance lessons that fit neatly into existing math and English courses.

Schools in the U.S. are governed at the state level. It is unlikely we’ll ever have a federal mandate for K-12 financial education like that in the U.K. or Australia. But most states have agreed to a common core initiative that dictates certain educational standards across state lines and which will be in force next year. Treasury’s new website will help teachers build personal finance lessons into courses they must redesign anyway.

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Posted in Uncategorized.

Learning – Some Great Teaching Ideas By Alla Volodina

The world around us is evolving everyday and importance of learning and teaching is much more in this world of increasing competition. It is really important to have good study skills for every student, if he wants to get success in his personal and professional life. How to learn to study is a question which every student asks. A good teacher can encourage a student for creative learning and can enhance his study skills. Here Alla Volodina is sharing some great teaching ideas, which will enhance learning abilities in students and will help teachers in multiple ways.

The first thing is to understand the psychology of the student. If a teacher cannot understand the psychology of his or her students, he will not be able to communicate with them properly. Every student has different level of creative learning and he has different study skills. Only a teacher can understand it better and he has to keep that in mind. Individual focus on every student will help teacher to know needs of every student and he will be able to tell him that how to learn to study, on individual level.

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Posted in Study Skills. Tagged with , , , .

Transitioning your Study Habits as you Enter University


It’s not unusual to feel nervous about your first mid-term or exam at the university level.  Many students are surprised that the level of effort required to achieve top marks in high school often translate into poor grades in university. In university, your schedule may vary widely depending on the day. You may start early in the mornings on Mondays and Wednesdays, but have night classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Whatever your schedule, it is essential to be strategic in planning your study time.  If you have a two hour gap between classes, use this time to study on campus. It will be easier to do it during the day than at night where there are more social events.

Increased independence is one of the perks of being in university, but many students find it difficult to keep up-to-date with readings and assignments. Many professors will not test you every class, but simply expect that you’re keeping current with the expectations laid out in the syllabus.  Skipping this work can lead to overwhelming stress at exam time. Attempting to learn all of the concepts at once in a short period of time is not conducive to your best work. Instead, try to keep up to date with all readings and assignments and take notes you can refer to when it’s time to study. Studying is about reminding yourself about a lesson, not learning it for the first time.

Similarly, it is very important to attend classes regularly. Many professors don’t take attendance, so there may be nothing stopping you from skipping classes. But classroom interaction is a very important part of the learning process. The lectures your professor gives will make concepts easier to understand. Most professors will allow students to ask questions, allowing clarification about any aspects of the lesson that may have been confusing. Even if you may not be brave enough to speak out in class yourself, hearing the questions and opinions of your fellow classmates can be useful as well. In addition, professors often give hints as to what areas to focus on come exam time, but if you skipped class that day, you’re out of luck.

It’s very important to hone your time management skills now that you’re in university. While achieving your degree is your primary purpose for being at university, it’s important to find a balance with social activities as well.

Keep focused on the habits you need to cultivate to achieve your goals, and the transition from high school to university will be a smooth one.

Posted in Study Skills. Tagged with , , , .