Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Keep It Simple

simple I don’t know who invented the acronym KISS meaning “Keep It Simple, Stupid” (I like to change the last S to Silly because it sounds nicer) but I really need to keep reminding myself of this. When I read the post, Simplicity In Life: Tying Up Loose Ends And Eliminating Stress

from So You Want To Teach? by Joel, it brought the reminder up front again. He states,

“Whatever the case, we all have unfinished business in our lives. These things can cause incredible amounts of stress when we think about them. They can cause even more when we ignore them for a while hoping they’ll go away. But they rarely do.”

Sometimes I over-think something until I am making no sense at all. It doesn’t matter if my problem is about education or about knitting. When I get bogged down with thinking, my brain seems to shut down. I can only imagine what this is like for my students who do not have all the life experience that I have (at this ripe old age!).

Many times I have to let the problem go and move on to something else. Moving away from the problem helps the solution come into focus. Sometimes I might even have to sleep on it. When I relax, the solution may slip into my brain more easily. But how many times have I told my students that they have to keep at the problem until they solve it? How many times do I expect my students to complete an assignment without caring that they have hit a road block. Somehow in my lessons, I need to incorporate possible down time for this possible situation. This may be a vital skill they learn that they can use later in their lives. By insisting that they solve the problems right now, I build up a level of frustration and possibly a feeling of failure where they just give up. I want to bolster them up to where they feel capable of solving problems and may even come up with a solution that I had not thought of.

Sometimes it just helps to talk about it. When I have a problem, I sometimes record my problem as if I’m telling someone a story. Then I can listen to it the next day and try to see it from a different perspective. When I do this, the solution may be so obvious that I am surprised I didn’t see it so clearly the first time.

I need to encourage my students to seek out others for assistance. That is the real world. When I have a problem on my job, the boss doesn’t say that I need to figure out what I need all by myself and to not ask anyone else for help. Instead, the boss expects me to do whatever is necessary to get the job done. That is why it is important to teach our students collaboration. They don’t automatically know how to work with others. It is not instinct. Students need to learn “collaboration etiquette.” They need to learn how to work with others, ask the right questions and to give credit to the ones who helped. I really don’t like working with others who take all the credit for the work when I may have been instrumental in getting the job done. When I feel like that, I usually don’t try to help that person again. These are things that I need to teach my students.

Sometimes, to be successful, it only takes a KISS (Keep It Simple, Silly!)

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'one blue marble' by: darwin Bell


Nick James said...

This is good advice. I had a post about KISS a while ago over at my blog:

Bill Gaskins said...

"They don’t automatically know how to work with others. It is not instinct. Students need to learn “collaboration etiquette.”"

Students need to be taught how to work together. Too many times we assume they can do it. I think that is why teachers give up on collaborative activities.


Ryan said...

Sometimes we over think because we are programmed to multi-task everything and we try to do too much at once to get the solution. In reality the answer can be found by slowing it down and carefully planning. I think it's natural to over think simply because of the fast paced world we live in. But you're right, collaboration allows us to think out loud in groups and give us a different perspective on our thought process. Peers and co-workers can be a great source to bring our minds back to reality and to refocus on the task at hand.

Stephannie said...

KISS that is something I really need to incooperate into my life. I tend to do things the hard way and over think the situation but the times I slow down and don't over anaylze the answer it is obvious. I think this statement is a great tool to use in your classroom to remind your students that if they slow down and take thier time then the answers will come.

Kristin said...

Such a simple concept, but one that is overlooked in so much of life. Great job reminding us to bring it back into focus!

Courtney Woods said...

I find myself often getting overwhelmed with tasks. KISS is a great concept that I need to always keep in the front of my mind. I do find that collaborating with others is a very useful tool in problem solving. Some of the best ideas come from brainstorming with others. Teaching students to work well together in groups and to slow down and take their time when problem solving is great advice!