Friday, August 22, 2008

Adopting a Struggling Learner Mindset

Bud Hunt at Bud The Teacher recently blogged, "An Open Letter to Teachers" for the new school year. This inspirational post obviously resonated with many as there are currently 52 comments to this post. One thing that especially resonated with me is this:
First. I hope you take lots of risks for the sake of learning this year. Not just for your students, but also for you. Make it a goal to try to learn something in a sustained and meaningful way that has little to do with your classroom life. I’ve been trying to learn photography this year, and while I’m nowhere close to proficient, it has been helpful to be in the mindset of a learner who’s struggling. That’s how many of our students feel everyday. (emphasis mine)
Contemplate that. That's how many of our students feel everyday.

For some of our students, every day is a struggle, every day is a chance to be reminded of how difficult it is to attend, to write, to read, to organize, to calculate, to listen, to.... Every day is a day to be humiliated by shortcomings. Do you realize there are students in your class who look around and think about how come these things come so easily to everyone else and not me? How come I do the homework (and they don't) and yet I struggle and get lousy grades? How come I can't figure out the words and they read so easily? How come they can answer the questions and I can't even read them? (I must be _____ (fill in the blank - stupid, dumb, etc)

When you offer professional development and some of your teachers complain that this is too hard (learning technology skills) or ask "why do we need to know this?" remind them that this is what life is like on a DAILY basis for some of their kids. The continual struggle, the constant reminders that "I must be deficient." This is a teachable moment. Use it. And maybe great things will result because they will now understand how difficult school is for some students in their classroom.

Be intentional - adopt a struggling learner mindset and let it change how you teach this year.


Samuel Sennott said...

I just picked up a programming chapter. Gosh, I feel it. Like learning a language when I was in Italy.

Bud Hunt said...

You honor me. Thank you. I'm pleased that so many folks found this post to be useful.