Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Give Time to Practice

practiceIn Maybe We Could Just Get Better from Practical Theory, Chris Lehmann states,

“Perhaps we are a time where we can admit that our best practices are the ones that we actually get the time to practice.”

I think that is the biggest mistake we make in education whether we are the teachers or the learners. We want immediate gratification and we want to be the best or be known as the best immediately.

I know that when I learn something new, I compare my results to the sample. Of course it won’t be as good as the original because that person probably had more practice creating it than I do. When I learn a new knitting technique or spinning technique, I want it to be perfect as soon as I’m finished. I need to remind myself that it will take practice. I might have to practice many times until I get the results that satisfy me.

In the same respect, I need to help my students practice. I need them to practice their skills until they become adept at what they are learning. I saw this a lot in the summer course that I taught. Many of the teachers were practicing and applying the skills they learned in all of their previous courses. This was a time for them to practice their skills but they all expected to earn an A and have a perfect score after 16 days. When they didn’t earn a perfect score, they got upset. I’m not sure how to help them learn that they probably won’t have a perfect score at the end of the course. Even though I give them a rubric to follow, many don’t read the rubrics or meet the course requirements outside of the classroom observation which results in a lower score. Then they want to argue that their teaching was exceptional so they should receive an A. Getting a B is nothing to be ashamed of and means they are still Above Average.

I would really like for my students to pick a skill that they want to practice and take the time to learn it well. I wish they would take the time getting better at this skill rather than be mediocre at several skills. My mother used to have a phrase about this: Jack of all trades and master of none.

I remember reading the book Outliers and Malcolm Gladwell states that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery. I wish teachers would give students the time needed to practice skills before discouraging them or labeling them as failures. I also wish that administrators would do the same thing for teachers. I can’t tell you how many times the district gives a new tool or strategy and gives you one school year to master it without sufficient training or time to practice. No wonder so many things fail or fall through the cracks and people become frustrated.

What skill would you like to practice more? Please share.

mage: 'Little violinist'
Found on flickrcc.net

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