Monday, September 26, 2011

I can’t or I won’t… how do you know which category a student falls into?

As teachers, we make judgments, often split second on the fly judgments, about our students and their abilities. We know that often when they say, “I can’t…” it simply means I choose not to put forth the effort to even see if I can or not. Just saying I can’t is much easier, much less risky.

But how do we know when a student truly, honestly cannot complete the task we have presented to them?

Sometimes, our gut kicks into gear and our teacher sense red flags us loud and clear, "Bobby is lost."

Other times, the water is murkier and we really aren't sure whether to push harder, demand more effort, or back off and take a slower easier route to the destination.

Which is better?

  • Pushing students to excel independently but sometimes erring on the side of too high of expectations.

  • Leading them too closely down the learning path, never expecting more than we think they can achieve on their own.

How do we find that middle ground of balancing the expectations with the realities of teaching them independence, pushing them to reach beyond their comfort zone, and assuring they develop the indurance needed to face obstacles?

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