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Progression of Independence

At some point, all little birds must leave the nest.  In nature, the birds have it right.  They are eager to push them out because they know it’s what they need to survive in the world.

As parents, we’re reluctant to let go because we’re scared.  Scared they will fail.  Scared they will get hurt or worse.  Scared we will have done the wrong thing by letting them go too soon.

But as teachers and parents, it’s important to get kid progressing toward independence.  They need to be able to perform the skill we want to teach them BY THEMSELVES without any help.

We do that with steps.  First, do it for them.  Show them.  Give examples.  Let it sink in.

2- Do it with them.  Work on it together, with them providing as much help as they can.

3- Have them do it by themselves with a little guidance, or with another student partner.

4-Have them try on their own.  Repeat as necessary.

You do.  We do. They do.  Simple and effective.

Get your kids progressing toward independence!  They’ll thank you for it!

This is going to be a tough one!

What do you do when you have a difficult student to contend with?  That’s a very big problem for teachers, and definitely not an easy fix (they never are, are they?)

I believe every year I have at least one student who commands more attention from me than others.  Sometimes there are three or four (sometimes there are 27!) But every year there are at LEAST one of them.  It’s important to think of them as exciting challenges, like flying down a zip line in the rainforest, or climbing the highest rock wall at REI.  They are a challenge to overcome, and we will feel like superstars when we survive!

It’s normal for there to be challenges, and it’s normal for those challenges to take more of your time.  It’s the nature of teaching.  A police man is in charge of ALL of our safety, but there are certain people in your neighborhood, I”m sure, who get more of his attention than others.  And when a carpenter works on ornate cabnitry they’ll take their time, but will probably breeze thorugh a simple pine bench.  Teachers have projects that take a little more of their time than others, and that’s okay.

What isn’t okay, though, is to short change the pine bench (students who need less guidance).  We need to make sure they are not neglected.  One way to do this is to assign student helpers, who can give assistance for minor problems – usually those students who are done early.  For things they can’t handle, I have a comment/question box.  Students who need something, but I am otherwise engaged, should skip the problem and move on in the questions.  If they still need help (or if it’s something personal or not urgent) they can write it down, and I’ll get to look though the comments/questions later and can make sure everyone is attended to.  Otherwise they might get lost in the shuffle.

But that still doesn’t attend to the difficult student, and there are BOOKS written about that.   One of them that is helpful is “The tough kids toolbox“.  It’s got a lot of resources.  It depends on the situation, but I will say that consistency helps – don’t let him get away with one thing once and then punish it later when you’ve finally “had enough.”  You have to be consistent, or they’ll just play the numbers.  “well, I got punished two times ago, so I figure I can do it once or twice before she blows up again…”  Of course, you’ve also got to pick your battles – just be consistent on the battles you DO pick.

But you’ll go back and forth on this – am I being too stern, not stern enough….you’ll make yourself sick.  Just do what you think is right, and not worry too much about “but he’s not LEARNING anything.”  You’re doing your best, and he or she wouldn’t be getting a better education anywhere else.  Stop the questioning of yourself and you’ll do a lot better. 

So – in short – make sure you don’t neglect the others, but realize they’re not going to get equal time.  Try your best with them, and then let it go.  You only have them for maybe 4 hours a day at most.  You just do what you can.  The rest is up to the PARENTS. 🙂