This made me think about my teaching career. With my special education students, sometimes you couldn’t spend the time to perfect one strategy because different strategies worked differently for different students. Plus on any given day, what worked yesterday may not work today. I didn’t spend a lot of time asking why but spend more time on how can I help them and what can I do differently. The more strategies I put in my “bag of tricks”, the more I had to choose from as I worked with more and more students. This strategy building is part of what I think a good teacher is all about. If I organized these strategies in some way that I can pull them out easily, it makes teaching easier. Sometimes I would actually discuss different strategies with the students and have them help decide which one to try next. I notice this is what the doctor is doing with my husband’s ear aches. He has tried several different things and we go back if it isn’t working. The doctor and my husband discuss what the results are and then the doctor changes some things and sends us home to try something new. There has to be this same communication between teachers and students in order to help the students be more successful.
I feel we also need to encourage students to try even if the final result isn’t perfect. The more they try something the better they will get. I try to relate this to my crocheting. When I first learned to crochet, some of my stitches were too loose and some too tight. It was the perfect looking afghan I ever made but I felt so good about myself when I finished it. Sure, it had mistakes and could have been better but I knew the next one I made would be better. I learned why it was important to have the right tension on the yarn but if I hadn’t seen the final product, I would not have learned this lesson. We need to let students finish something instead of expecting perfection in the final product. As teachers, we need to encourage the effort as much as the end result. Yes, we want them to do things the right way, but we need to let them learn from their mistakes. This is a real life situation because when the students get out in the real world, they will make mistakes and they need to learn that it isn’t the end of the world. Having students look at their final product and have them reflect on what they did right as well as wrong is very important. If students can’t see that they did anything right, they will give up and stop trying. Many teachers do not recognize the effort students put into something and just grade the final product. If the student did the best they could and thought they succeeded, only to get an F as a grade, they tend to give up and don’t see much reason to keep on trying. After looking at the positive things, I then have them reflect on what they could have done differently to make this even better. This is where the major learning takes place. If they can see their mistakes and change them in the future, haven’t we done our job? When teachers give a grade and then move on to another topic, when does the student learn how to correct the mistakes? Without knowing where they went wrong, they will continue to make the same mistakes over and over. Students need to make mistakes, correct them, and apply their knowledge to a new situation. This will make students more successful in the classroom and in real life situations.
Photo credit: erasing by dweebydude5