I am caught between a rock and a hard place…of my own doing.
I have made it my mission to say, “Yes. Then, let’s talk about how it went,” when students ask me, “Can I…” or “Am I allowed to…”(This last one really grates on me, for some reason. But that’s a post for another time.)
Nevertheless, I find myself still saying, “No,” more often than “Yes”. I find myself waffling rather than assenting clearly and with confidence: “Yes. Try that out and then let’s chat about how it went for you.”
The classroom is a busy place. My students crave validation, permission, reassurance. They depend on me, as the adult in the room, to tell them I like their work. That they can use the iPad for writing and that what they’re doing, if not awesome already, is on its way to getting there. And, they are persistent.
But what am I after?
I look out at the sea of faces in my classroom and I am on a quest to identify learners who are independent, confident, and intentional problem solvers.
What I sometimes forget is that if my students are going to go from point a to point b, I need to create the situations to help them get there, one step at a time. And, it does take time.
When I explain the why of what we’re doing as clearly as possible without being wordy. (I’ve been told by some of my students that I talk a lot. I wasn’t surprised. I was hoping that they wouldn’t notice. LOL! You can be sure that I made a point of changing that the very next day.)
One way I’ve done this is to use the following sentence frame:
We are studying (topic/concept/skill) so that (how is this going to help us learn better/do something we want to do/improve in a particular area/skill, etc).
This is not intended so that the teacher is the only one providing the why of a lesson or a unit. Ideally, we want our students to be thinking about this, too.
Today a student came up to me and told me about how she had discussed her reading goal with her parents last night and, as a result, had created a calendar of sorts to help keep her on track. This was not a requirement; she was motivated to do this on her own so that she could keep track of her goal. Tomorrow she’s going to share this with the class.
So, I have to ask myself: why was she self-motivated? Was she the only one or were other kids who were also motivated to follow up on their goals? When I talked to two students today, they were clear about their goals and how they were going to approach them. They have given this some thought.
The sentence frame I used for this was:
I will (goal) by (date or time frame) so that (how is this going to help us learn better/do something we want to do/improve in a particular area/skill, etc.
Maybe it was the so what part of the frame that helped kids connect to their goals. Maybe it was the intentionality: I will…Or maybe it was committing to a date that helped them take this, more or less common classroom exercise, seriously.
Only time will tell.
Cross posted to The Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesday.