Failure, Patience, and Respect


This week, I’ve been returning to The Self-Directed Learning Handbook after some personal failures in relating with students and parents. I want to learn from these experiences and also to be prepared for more of the same as the E3 Learning CO program grows. I’m frustrated and uncomfortable- thankfully I was recently reminded that discomfort is an opportunity for growth. (hat tip to Michael Schneider)

This quote really hit home today:

Be infinitely patient, and show unqualified respect. Your students will be struggling with the demons that keep them from taking responsibility for their learning, their lives, and themselves.

As I review these situations in my head, I can definitely say that I was not “infinitely patient“. This is my struggle and an area for needed improvement. I will work hard to give you the tools and skills you need to learn independently. I will invest personal time seeking out technology tools to assist you in a way that meets your learning style. I will sit next to you and walk you through the process of learning independently. I will help you set up reminders so you don’t forget to work your plan. I will touch base to see how you are progressing. At that point, I have some expectations. I expect you to invest time in working the plan. I expect you to be honest with me regarding your progress, or lack thereof. I expect you to do actual work.  I expect you to be invested in your own learning. If students are not in a place to meet those expectations, my supply of patience runs low. Not how I want to be.

What is the balance between holding a student accountable and being infinitely patient? How am I as learning facilitator patient while addressing progress concerns?  How do I learn better language to communicate patience? I don’t have answers, and I’d like to have some. If you can share what you are learning in this area, I’d love to hear it. Comment, blog, tweet. Whatever works for you, but please share so I can learn from you.

The other part of the quote that hit home was showing unqualified respect. One of my concerns about my behavior this week is not so much what was said- I wasn’t mean or unkind, but did expect some answers. I know that my line of questioning could have been more respectful to the student as a whole person. I could have been more gentle in acknowledging “the demons that were keeping this student from taking responsibility”.

My learnings from this week?

  • I do a great job sharing resources and tools.
  • I can also train students to use technology.
  • I research well and can help others learn to research.
  • I need to learn to be more positive and clear in my communication with both students and parents.
  • I need to adjust my expectations of students.
  • I need to be comfortable with this learning path not working for everyone.

I’m somewhat afraid I have fulfilled “The Peter Principle” this week… rising to the level of my own incompetence. I’d like to change that. Time to do some more learning on the science and psychology of learning. (Resources welcome! I will be seeking out some Love and Logic info based on a suggestion from my admin.)

What are you learning this week? 

[image credit: cobrasoft]

Don’t Stand On Ceremony

Do I choose to make myself look good? Like the teacher who has her little ducklings all quietly standing in a row, or do I meet the need of the child who needs my attention that particular moment.

How often do we choose ceremony over relationships?  At home, this can look like requiring obedience to silly rules.  At school, it takes on a pretty insidious role.  Do I choose to make myself look good?  Like the teacher who has her little ducklings all quietly standing in a row, or do I meet the need of the child who needs my attention that particular moment.  Will the world end if students are talking in line?  Who are they hurting?  I truly struggle with some of the rules we impose on students.  If the goal is respecting other classrooms by being quiet in the hallway, why must we be quiet standing in lines where there’s NOT a classroom nearby?

I liked what Greta Sandler @gret had to say about rules in the classroom during her session on Student at the Reform Symposium 2011.  She has one rule.


Respect yourself. Respect each other.  Respect the environment.

Shall we be a little more like Maria and a little less like the Captain? ((And I get that we have to have some rules- Stop signs exist for a reason… but must we legislate every little piece of student conduct?)) Hmmm…. she got much better results by focusing on her relationship with the children rather than imposing order via bosun’s whistle.

Photo by bschmove on Flickr.