Sunday, June 3, 2012

Just Do It.

Emptying the dishwasher is an easy job.  Loading it~ not so much, say my 11 and 12 year old sons.  After observing their first few attempts, I would agree. 

Shoving Cheerio-soldered bowls in with ketchup covered plates and dried up peanut-butter knives, the boys were not off to a good start.  Hence, the mini-lesson on rinsing.  Their second and third attempts were better, as they realized that cups have a better chance of ending up clean if you load them upside-down. 

Still, an intervention in plate placement was necessary as well as the follow-up garbage disposal tutorial and counter-wiping reinforcement.  Still, after a few months of coaching and praise, I still wonder if it would just be easier to do it myself.

 So why does the dishwasher torture continue?


It's hard to stand by and coach while you observe children making attempts that may or may not be exactly what you had hoped they would be.  When teaching, I especially find this to be true as I work with my readers.  Teachers (and with this generalization, I mean, I) love to impart their knowledge.  They love to model and talk and disseminate their wisdom.  The hard part for many (and by this, I mean, ME) is the gradual release of responsibility, and allowing children to take ownership of their learning to construct knowledge. 

It is tough to watch the struggle.  Over the years, however, I've come to understand that a big part of my job is the struggle.  In order to become better readers, my students know that they will need to work.  We set goals together and I coach through mini-lessons.  They read books at their "just right" instructional level.  I allow my students to make mistakes and try again.  My role is a coach and also a cheerleader as they generate their learning through these multiple attempts and my guidance on the sidelines.  We do "real" reading.  Lots and lots of it. 

Why?  Because of the end goal.  Independence. With all of my knowledge and expertise about reading, I must let go, stop talking, and just let them do it for themselves.  And when they do it for themselves, they own it and can continue without me.

Maybe that is the hardest part as a parent and a teacher.  Knowing that in reality, if I have done my job, my children and my students are not going to need me anymore.  That realization can be hard to acknowledge at first.  It feels good to be needed, imparting my wisdom and expertise.  What is better, I have found, is knowing that I have empowered others to do it for themselves.


That is why.

(Playing with the sprayer is an added bonus.)

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