Wednesday, October 15, 2014
When a problem comes along, you must whip it! Yea I know starting a blog entry with a quote from a Devo song might seem a bit odd, but if you know me at all or have read anything on here, you know that is to be expected. So I was going to put this in the 20 Time blog but on further review I realized that this blog belongs in the reflective section although it clearly has implications for the 20 time project as well. So here goes....
I have slowly come to realize that I am not doing such a good job of teaching my students how to trouble shoot stuff as it comes along. While this is related to the teaching grit post, I have concluded that my students simply give up when something does not work. "Mr Wolski, this page won't load! Mr Wolski, I cannot find this website!" Ugh. I have always vigorously protested when other adults have exclaimed "These students are so tech savy!" No they really aren't. They can Tweet and Snapchat and maybe find a YouTube video but when it comes to anything else......not so much. And honestly, can you blame them? I think we need to teach them how to get around little problems that are easy to fix.
Me: "Did you reload the page? Did you close the browser and reopen it? Did you make sure you spelled the URL right?" I often tell my students (I borrowed this from my wife who does the same thing) that I am magical!! They have a problem and they claim they try my solutions but when I come near the laptop or Chromebook and look at it, it magically works!! Wala! Bing! Ta Da! I am magical. I had a student the other day complain that something was taking too long to post to Google Classroom (My new fav.....Is there anything Google can't do?) and I said you have to wait, but it will post. And Ta Da! It did. Have patience young grasshoppers! It will work, post, load, etc. You don't always have the Wifi speed you want, but at least you have it!! I am sure that every generation has complained that the next generation is obsessed with having their wants and needs met immediately, but I think the advancement in the technology arena has accelerated this issue.
However, I think there is a moment here in education where we can create a generation of students who can not only think on their own, but who can trouble shoot situations as they arise. But we have to make a coordinated and conscientious effort to do so. However tempting it may be to just do solve the little things on our own and just trouble shoot for them, it does not help them in the future. It's like giving directions. I usually have the directions either on the Smart Board or the digital worksheet or both. However, I have instituted (or try to remember to!) the "Ask 3 then Me" policy when giving directions. Here's why: if I give directions to students and they are not listening even though they are in written form right in front of them what message I am sending if they know I will simply repeat them? We need to help them to focus when we are giving instructions. I don't talk all period, so when I do, students need to pay attention. It makes them lazy if we are constantly repeating ourselves. If ALL teachers did this, then the students who tend to wander might realize "Oh man, I better pay attention the first time!" So I think I need to make a sign and hang this up some where so students can see it. Then I can just point. It's time to train them on how to listen when it's important! I know they can do it, I have seen them do it when it's necessary.
In the end, isn't trouble shooting just critical thinking in disguise? Won't we have better students if we take the time and effort to show them that just because something does not work does not mean that we should give up or not even try. What if the first thing they try doesn't work??? Shouldn't we show them that perseverance pays off? The old Edison adage of "I have found 1000 ways it doesn't work" is what comes to mind here. Remember fellow educators: we are guides that supposed to be showing them how to do and then making sure they can on their own, not doing it for them!! Rock on!!!