After school today, I was charged with an opportunity to actively monitor my Brody with his newly acquired skill of riding his bike with no training wheels (all day at school, I was actively monitoring our state writing assessment). Today he was working on getting the left pedal in the best position to start off on his own. In this monitoring opportunity, I shouted my encouragement and offered feedback on what he needed to do next in order to be successful. The little girl down the street was riding her bike alongside him, and she was the strong sample Brody needed to help him on his quest for independence. Time after time, Brody would look to me to provide him with feedback which he would then put into practice. Eventually, he did it!!! It was fun to be a part of his excitement in learning this new skill. The smile he shared upon success made my heart sing.
This process of allowing the student to be in charge of the learning, while staying alongside offering that strong sample and providing feedback to move the learner along until they achieve success is what I try and do with my students on a daily basis. It wasn't easy to keep my enthusiasm when I had given Brody feedback time and time again, only to have him fall one more time. However, I know it was much more stressful for him.
I believe in this model. I think the only way to ensure student success at anything new is to take the time to offer them ample opportunity to practice and become more confident in their abilities. Our students are much more able than we tend to give them credit for being. I know I am often quicker than I should be to offer the answer that I am expecting, rather than waiting for the student to create that learning on their own.
Perhaps my active monitoring should be more with my own practice. I enjoy looking at the strong samples of my very intelligent and passionate colleagues. I appreciate when I receive feedback on ways to improve my craft, and I seek opportunities to practice what I learn to develop independence. After all, I am a learner too!!