Shane’s approach to teaching is based upon three pillars: helping a student become more aware of expectations; guiding a student toward greater self-awareness of how he or she thinks, feels, and behaves; and, finally, empowering a student to develop better self-control and implement new approaches more aligned with expectations. There are several other aspects including curriculum, knowledge, and skill sets that are taught within these three tenets.
Studying a Test
Standardized testing is an act that must embrace tedium. There may seem to be an infinite, ever-changing stream of new kinds of problems, but underlying components are repetitive. The engineering of test questions is similar to a large salad bar that can make what seems to be an endless amount of different kinds of salads out of a finite number of ingredients. Helping a student discover the “ingredients” can be challenging because the effort requires more than just solving a problem. To see tests as repetitive, one needs to understand the underlying engineering and develop an empathy for the test makers.
There are several counterintuitive aspects to processing standardized tests. Helping a student recognize many of his or her conventional (and unconventional) ways of thinking is important for him or her to recognize if those ways are assisting or inhibiting performance. Some of the more universal recognitions include passive reading, becoming overwhelmed on a math problem, exclusive reliance on sound in grammar and usage, and contending with issues regarding timing. A student must come to understand and accept how they think and behave. Accepting, supporting, and withholding judgment in those moments of heightening self-awareness is imperative.
Real Time Processing
Once a strong understanding of a test’s expectations is achieved, sessions focus on a student’s experience taking the test under timed conditions. He or she works on what changes feel like and compare the experience and results to previous ones in order to induce and ensure effective changes. Direct instruction during such processing, along with the study of results afterward, take place with the goal of creating efficiency and robustness during real-time testing. There is great emphasis to ensure that a student becomes proficient in processing testing material and fully understands how to implement his or her new understanding and skills.
Ultimately, these efforts are done to usher a transformation so that improvements continue well after high school. A student will have to do the careful practice, the reviewing of work, the introspective efforts, and the implementation of what he or she has learned in order to improve scores. But in the process of working toward that goal, these efforts remodel and refine the way a student thinks and learns. The improvement of test scores is a small success within a much larger framework of helping prepare students for the challenges of college and beyond.