Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Being In Control

In Topping off the tank from Seth Godin's Blog, Seth Godin  talks about “The appearance of control.”

There are many instances of this in the classroom.

An administrator asks for input from the faculty but never uses any of the suggestions and doesn’t even look at the input given. But the administrator has given the appearance of control.

They put thermostats in every classroom, but they don’t really work. I was told by a plant engineer that the climate is actually controlled by a computer from a place out of state.

You are asked to vote on things, but the outcome does not necessarily determine the results.

Teachers can see through this farce and I think it has really lowered morale across the teaching field. When people feel powerless, they go through the motions but have no incentive to improve their situation.

I have to admit that I’m a control freak. Sometimes it is easier for me to do things rather than to delegate it to others. I don’t mean to be critical but not everyone will do things that way I do or the way I want it done. If I have to micromanage, I might as well do it myself.

Yet, I know that I have to give up some of that control in the classroom and empower students to think for themselves. I have to give them choices so that they will learn the art of decision making.

Not only do I have to allow them choices, but I have to abide by the decision they choose. So, the important thing is to find the things that I can live with, no matter what they do.

One way that has been successful in my class has been to give my students choices. If there are more than one activity, let them choose the order that they want to complete them. I can give them a list of projects and allow them to choose which one they want to do. I can have a choice of three different types of assessment and let them pick which one they feel most comfortable completing in order to show me that they mastered the skill.

Giving students choices and allowing them to follow through not only gives the appearance of control but actually empowers students to make choices. It allows them to look at their own preferences and strengths in order to make their own decisions. The more comfortable they get at decision making, the more successful they will be later in life.

How do you give up control in your classroom? Please share.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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