Monday, December 18, 2017

How Much to Push?

With a class full of capable learners, there's always the question of how much to push. Some students persevere tirelessly while others move at a much slower and less enthusiastic pace. That differential always prompts a teacher to question, what can I do to motivate all to work with great perseverance and drive--to stay the course, ask good questions, and learn as well as they can?

Good teachers know that it's important to teach in multiple ways to draw as many students as possible to the learning table with eagerness, positivity, and energy, yet we also know that with big classes and a diversity of learners, it's likely that not everyone will be as motivated or enthusiastic at every learning moment. While lots of learning is fun and fulfilling, some learning does take lots of practice and push--it doesn't come easy.

I will be thinking about this over the week's vacation with respect to my learners. While I don't want to push too much, I also know that when pushed in a just right way, students are proud of what they've learned and how they achieve. For some, they simply don't believe they can learn as much as they can or do as well as they can, and when you give them avenues and coaching to reach optimal achievement, they persevere more and do well. As many say, teaching is a dance--you want to direct in a just right fashion that doesn't push students overboard, but does give them a push to persevere and learn more.

Some will say that if the learning is engaging enough, then pushes aren't necessary as learning is natural and children push themselves. Yet at the foundation level that I teach, some foundation skills are laborious for students, and it does take hard work to gain a good foundation in those skills, concepts, and knowledge points. For example a child who has difficulty with simple algorithms, may have to work a lot to understand the process(es) and perform them with accuracy. Similarly children who struggle with reading at a rate that's good for comprehension may find the practice tough.

How do you determine the just right push in teaching? How do you master the learning/teaching "dance" so children are rightly pushed forward, but not pushed overboard. I think every teacher deals with this question, and if you have any insights, I welcome your share.