Begin With the End in Mind

Here's a great little tip to add some extra punch to the next important lesson you give. It's deceptively simple, but it should help your students remember the lesson better. At the very beginning of the lesson segment, state the key idea you want to drive home casually, as if its just a comment, but clearly and deliberately. Proceed with your lesson, hashing out the detailed explanation. Once you've reached the end of the instruction, restate the main idea, word for word. You'll have come full circle and connected the beginning to the end in your students' minds.

Faith Jegede: What I've learned from my autistic brothers

This TED talk is a perfect example of this technique. Watch it yourself, and see if you notice the trick. (It's only 5 minutes long.)

The pursuit of normality is the ultimate sacrifice of potential.
— Faith Jegede

It's subtle isn't it? At the beginning of her talk, Faith has one simple request: "Don't tell me that I'm normal." She then introduces her two brothers, who happen to be autistic, and shares some of their special talents. Sam has an incredible memory, full of fun facts and trivia. Sam has unconditional love for life and others. But, Faith explains, each of them are far from normal. The first can't remember the simplest of events. The other can't talk. These differences are what make them special. Their autism is what makes them extraordinary. She tells us that normality overlooks the beauty that differences give us. Trying to be like other people robs us of our potential. And so, she again pleads, "Please, don't tell me that I'm normal."

The message is clear and powerful the second time around, but it relies on a primed mind to readily receive the relevant information. Establishing the context at the beginning helps the brain know where to store this new information. Repeating it at the end solidifies it, and locks it in.

Try using this technique in an upcoming lesson, and let me know how it goes.