This is Why I Enjoy Running

OK, this post is one where I ramble on philosophically so you don’t HAVE to read it, but BEFORE you go back to eating Nachos while watching football or watching the Inauguration, or heading to the great outdoors, I have an offer (OK – bribe)

Whoever reads this post and adds a comment by Midnight on Tuesday will be entered into a drawing for a free book, called:

Creating Innovators, The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World by Tony Wagner

It’s a great read and all you have to do is make a comment on this blog post and I’ll randomly select one of the commenters for the book at the end of the day on Tuesday. Enough of the commercial, let’s get back to our regularly scheduled program:

This is Why I Enjoy Running

While taking a leisurely jog through the neighborhood I was listening to one of my favorite podcasters, Russ Roberts of EconTalk.  He was discussing the use and abuse of data with Esther Dyson, author of The Rise of the Attention Economy.  He said something that resonated with me along the lines of, ” It may mean that my skepticism about data means that I’m against data, however I think the art of being a grownup and being a thinking person is to understand when data is useful and when it’s not”.  This reminded me of the discussion at our staff meeting around scaffolding.

There were voices to limit or reduce scaffolding and others who were extolling the virtues and necessity of scaffolding.  What is clear to me is that it’s the mature and wise teacher who must consider many data points throughout the day and decide when a student is in the midst of productive struggle or utter failure and dejection.  That wise teacher either provides a little more information, a prompt, cue or a differently worded question to spur clearer thinking or allows the student to ruminate a few seconds or minutes longer until enlightenment occurs.

Teachers are always trying to avoid the extreme of learned helplessness or frustration and despair.  Making those myriad choices cannot be summed up by Common Core Experts with phrases like “We need to stop front loading”.   As you all know, it’s not that simple.

So, what I came away with  from my run was a renewed appreciation of the thoughtful practitioners at Salt Creek Elementary and I wanted to say “Thank you Robin Jones, Angelica Sandoval, Kimberly Hale, Madeline Muhlbach and all the others who weighed in with their best thinking”.  By continuous dialogue we will all come closer to making the right call when standing in front of our perplexed students .  Please join in this conversation in the comments by answering  any or all of these questions.

What are some of the signs you look for by students who are eager to let you do all the work even though they are quite capable?

What are some strategies you have used to get that “helpless” student to take ownership for his learning?

How do you know when a student is truly in need of new or different information in order to move forward?

Can you give examples of when you gave too little, too much, or just the right amount of scaffolding?  What were the circumstances and what were the outcomes?

Now it’s your turn.  Jump in with your comments, but first it might be a good idea to head out for a good run, swim, or bike ride to get that blood flowing to the brain.



2 thoughts on “This is Why I Enjoy Running

  1. I like to listen to Oingo Boingo’s “Dead Man’s Party” when I run or “Price Tag”. Both help me forget about work and enjoy the scenery. But I’ll think about your iPod choices the next time I run. 🙂

  2. Student, “I’m done, what do I do?” I have a student who knows what to do, (because I usually tell them or I always tell them if they don’t know what to do, read) but she continues to ask. I generally ask, “What do you think?”, instead of giving the answer. I also use positive reinforcement when I notice someone doing what I asked or reading when they are done.

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