Thursday, September 1, 2011

Help Me to Learn So I Can Improve

      I’m amazed at how much we celebrate fake in our society.   On television we see many characters that have no ability, but work to convince the public otherwise.  My daughters have come to accept that musicians on the radio are auto tuned so that whether they can sing or not the computer just fixes it.   We touch up our photos to make us more of what we are not.  People lie to get jobs stretching their resumes; the list could go on and on. 
    In my classroom I am always amazed how everyone knows everything until it is time for a test.  It makes our job harder to divine out the truth when children think they already know everything.  So we  have to constantly assess after our lessons to make sure the students  have learned what we intended for them to learn.  Even more important than our efforts to police our students is our constant effort to get kids to honestly assess their ability and become self-motivated to learn what they don’t know. 
     Today I had a student come to me before the end of school and said, “Mr. Smith, I don’t understand the math you taught me today. “  So while the other students were packing up for the end of the day I sat down and reviewed the lesson again.  She started to figure out where her misunderstandings were and I was able to get her on her way as the other students began to file out of the room.  I’ll make a point of praising her to her parents and in front of the class.  She is a student who is going to succeed because she realizes that to improve we must admit our weaknesses and make an effort to improve those areas. 
     What areas of our lives are we pretending to have mastery when we have so much more to learn?  What are we doing to improve in our weak areas?  Are we willing to ask for help?  These are all questions that we need to foster in our students.  It also doesn’t hurt to practice what we are teaching our students as well.

(In the comments below, please tell me what you do to motivate students to evaluate their abilities?)

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