Here’s your challenge, if you choose to accept it, for the week…be the student.
It has been proven that students learn best when they are interested and involved; however, we also know that students learn much through struggle. Handing students answers as soon they ask for them rarely results in long term memory retention. Although the aim isn’t to make students too uncomfortable, there is substantial learning that takes place when students are challenged and while they sort through their own thoughts.
Example: If student A is stuck on a long division problem causing him or her to ask for help and you simply show him or her what to do, they will most likely retain the strategy for the rest of math class. If, instead, you guide him or her through the process with probing questions, they will most likely remember the process for much longer! This is just one of the many examples to show that learning is difficult and requires work!
While it is obvious that this type of light struggle is healthy for children, it is easy to forget what that struggle feels like. Here is my challenge to you: BE the student! Jump into a situation where you are forced to work your way through challenge to gain understanding; one in which the process itself is difficult.
Recently, I went to a painting class with a group of other Navy Spouses. I have absolutely no artistic ability but I thought it would make for a fun evening. Plus, the idea of putting on fancy clothes (pants with a real waistband and a stain free shirt) while having adult conversations with a glass of wine sounded ideal. The pottery studio studio that hosted our party knew what they were doing. They supplied the proper materials (brushes, canvases, and plenty of paint) and an experienced guide for the evening. As educators and parents, this is precisely what we do every day with our students and children. We arm them with the supplies they need and we guide them in how to use them properly. If the instructor would have taken my hand and created my piece of art with me, by the end of the night it most likely would have made for a nicer looking piece of art (perhaps the painting would be actually hanging in our house!). Unfortunately though, I would not have learned a thing. By struggling (getting out of my comfort zone) and doing it myself, I gained the ability to create (for better or for worse) sunflowers and understand the basics of painting. Furthermore, I also was able to self-reflect on what it is like to be a student. I felt a struggle as I was trying to figure out the process. This struggle helped remind me stay sensitive when working with students who are being challenged.
Struggling through learning is a vital part of the education process; it is important to remember what that feels like.
So what will you do out of your comfort zone?
Jump into using a SMART board for the first time?
Take up knitting?
Learn a new language?
Leave a comment below and let me know what you choose!