I am thrilled to share the cover of my upcoming book! 9780325048000-1
This book, which is due to come out this August, looks at how to create self-directed learners in the Writing Workshop: As the publication date gets closer, I’ll send along more information.
For now, I want to share one aspect of the book and how it helped me to parent Ariana in a way that hopefully will help her to become more and more self-directed.
One of the words I use in the book to describe self-directed learners is persistent. Throughout the book, I share many concrete ways to help kids become more persistent.
For the purpose of this blog I’ll give you a ‘sneak peak’ at one of these ways, but first a story about Ariana….
Ariana has learned to turn over from her back to her belly and of course now practices it about 2,341 times a day. Watch her here: VIDEO0005-0
The problem was that when she first learned how to roll over she wasn’t great at it and that caused her some frustration.
After she turned over and was on her belly, she couldn’t get her hands out from under her body and to make matters worse although she loved her new trick of rolling over, she wasn’t particularly comfortable on her stomach.
You can imagine that there was a lot of crying and frustrated grunts on the first day of this new learning.
As her mom, it was hard to watch her frustration and it was tempting to just pull her out of the situation and have her play in ways that would avoid her rolling over.
After much reflection and (googling ‘baby frustration’) I realized that a little bit of frustration was good as it would help her become more persistent in figuring out how to solve the problem herself.
I purposely say a little bit of frustration because I know that too much frustration would not help her become more persistent but rather a weepy mess who couldn’t couldn’t focus on anything. I started to try and manage her frustration.
I watched from afar for a few minutes to see how and if she could problem solve and lo and behold she began to be able to get her hands out from under her body and actually began to enjoy being on her belly.
Of course, there were times when I could tell she was going to become too frustrated and that’s when I intervened and helped as lightly as I could.
But there were just as many times when I didn’t intervene and let her problem solve on her own.
My hope is that by holding off and only helping when I could see that the frustration was too high Ariana would become more persistent in solving problems both now and in the future.
How does this story impact the classroom?
Well, for starters in my new book I emphasize that not only do we want to teach reading and writing, but we also want to teach persistence. I want kids to understand that the harder you work the more likely you’ll be able to figure something out.
A little bit of frustration is a natural part of learning. And when you get on the other side of frustration and figure something out, I think it does help with teaching persistence in both parenting and teaching.
I want to end with a simple technique that I talk about in my book to teach persistence. Interestingly, it is exactly what I did with Ariana without realizing it.
I do not speak to the kids for the first three minutes of Writing Workshop. During that time rather than talking to kids, I am watching them problem solve. When I see a child struggling rather than jump in immediately, I watch to see if and how they solve the problem. After those three minutes if I think a child is too frustrated I will intervene just as I did with Ariana.
My hope is that just like Ariana saw the pay off of working hard at rolling over, my students will see the pay off of working hard to solve problems during Writing Workshop.
I would love to hear your thoughts on teaching persistence in both teaching and parenting.