I met with my SEL study group recently only to find that I was traveling down the completely wrong cognitive road with regard to one of the study questions. I simply misunderstood the prompt, and began writing in a way that didn't represent the research or question accurately. I had no idea that I was doing this until my study partner challenged me by essentially saying that the writing didn't match the research.
My initial reaction was to defend my work, yet I know my study partner has greater experience in this area than me so I listened and tried to understand what he was saying. Later I went home and looked up the topic, and what I had naively thoughts was a straightforward idea was actually a quite complex topic with bountiful research available on the Internet and elsewhere. Now I have a lot of homework to do before our next meeting. I'm tasked with rewriting the activities and descriptions related to the topic.
As I experienced traveling down this "wrong road," I thought once again about the fact that learning is not a simple journey, but instead, a journey of many unexpected twists and turns, and a journey that can always become deeper, wider, and more targeted all at the same time. I also noted that it's our openness to new learning that propels our learning journey well.
I'll apply this experience both to my own learning and to teaching as I coach young students down their own learning paths today. In many ways, this was a good lesson for me as I open up the math class in the next three weeks to greater independent and small group "travel" as students explore and come to understand computation algorithms, application, and patterns with greater strength. I'll be directing, guiding, coaching, and mentoring as my students learn, and all the while I'll redirect too when students take "wrong roads" or make mistakes. There's lots to learn out there, and learning is not a simple matter. That's what makes teaching and learning so interesting and challenging too.