Monday, September 5, 2016

The Importance of Struggling

Excellence in Education: The Importance of Struggling  
As educators we’re big-hearted. In the interest of having students succeed, too often we spoon-feed our students. We tell them exactly how to do something or how to solve a problem. We provide them with step-by-step directions. We give them specific graphic organizers. We tell them how to solve a problem before allowing them the challenge to work towards an answer.

When teaching complex problems that challenge students, they are provided the opportunity to struggle. Yes, struggling is an opportunity; one that many students never experience. Complex and appropriate challenges engage students, motivate them and build true life skills.

So, when I walked into Ms. Rowanhill’s classroom last week, I was pleased to see students struggling with a complex math problem. While they expressed frustration, they worked together, they debated and asked each other deep questions. Ms. Rowanhill stood by, possibly fighting the temptation to get involved. Slowly but surely the students worked towards the correct answer.

I saw a similar experience in Mr. Stanek’s Earth Science class. Without prompting, one of the freshman turned to me, “My head’s ready to explode.” She didn’t give up though. Like the students in Ms. Rowanhill’s she worked through much of the problem individually and when needed and appropriate she sought the support of her tablemates. Mr. Stanek stood by, ready to answer some questions--without giving away answers--and ask prompting questions to his students.

Undoubtedly, when students constructively struggle, they are more likely to truly learn the material, and they are learning how to persevere, how to think critically, and are building their own growth mindset.

Questions to Ask Ourselves
Will one or two challenging problems produce better results than several shorter and easier ones?
Are we asking questions that are rote or don’t have “traditional” correct/incorrect answers?
How can we break away from the linear approach to teaching and learning?
Do our assignments provide students the opportunity to analyze through inquiry-based learning?
Are we willing to give up some of the traditional, hierarchical structure so students can take ownership of their learning?

Need to Knows
Interested in becoming AVID trained and earning your flex-time PD? Here’s a great free opportunity that begins on September 12: For more info and to register

Many of you have inquired about changing our Friday bell schedule. As with all things, we are constantly seeking ways to adjust and improve, and we will re-evaluate our schedule at a later time. In the meantime, I remind you that we have only had 2 Fridays and change takes time and it’s too early to evaluate it as a success or failure. As we go forward, I know each of you will present the current schedule to your students in a positive manner.

Technology / Website Permission Request Form Please use this form to request use of a website that requires student log-in if the site is not already on the approved list.

Portfolio Assistance If you have a student who needs assistance setting up his/her portfolio, click here

Calendar Items
This week: B, A, B, B

September 14: Back to School Night (6:30-8:30)

September 23: All TPA Goals and Meetings are Due

October 6 & 20 Parent-Teacher Conferences 4:30-7

Shout Outs
Thanks to Mr. Jacoby and all of you who included information for our September Newsletter. Here’s a link!

Worth Your Time

Two Great Stories from NPR building on Mental Health Awareness

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