This model captures the mechanisms at work in ESFA. You can trace the program inputs at the left through teacher learning and classroom implementation activities though the outcomes and impacts at the right.
© Laurie Faith, 2017
How do teachers motivate hard-to-reach students to meet academic expectations at school? It is tempting to step in with help, reduce the scope or intensity of the challenge, or “come down hard” with warnings about deadlines and punitive consequences. These approaches get students from A to B, but often appropriate creative and intellectual opportunities and leave students feeling disrespected, detached, and frustrated.
Dweck’s work on “growth mindset” suggests that teachers can better motivate students by noticing and praising evidence of problem-solving processes. Saying, “You used an organized approach to succeed” makes students excited to experiment with organization again. Saying, “You are smart and that is why you succeeded” will cause students to nervously guard their status as “smart” by avoiding risk and trying to make work look effortless. The key is to focus on simple aspects of performance that students can intentionally control, rather than aspects referring to more “fixed” and abstract qualities such as intelligence.
ESFA leverages this research. It is an adaptable instruction, feedback, and assessment practice in which teachers focus on process along with students. ESFA fills classrooms with assessment and feedback based on process-based goals that are created collaboratively, as needed, by teachers and students. This is not a typical growth mindset or mindfulness program with expensive materials and add-on lessons; it is an adaptive approach to success that every 21st century thinker should know.
ESFA is a tool for democratizing instructional practice. It universally designs executive skill interventions so children with LD, autism spectrum disorders, ADD, and other risk factors can express their creativity and intellect more independently within a normal classroom setting. It pulls unusual thinkers BACK into the mainstream knowledge building community where their innovative ideas can be heard.