Good things happen when you don’t tell HOW

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I Took A Big Risk 

Today, I took a big risk (for me) in creating an assignment for my students.  I told them to do something that I didn’t know how to do.  The students had to take a picture of an assignment from another class and upload it to Google Classroom.  The results were amazing.  I had students asking each other how to do it and there was an expert at every table.  I had one student show me how to do it and I learned something.  Last year I would not have even given this assignment.  

 

I used to think that I needed to be an expert in everything I was asking my students to do.  I assumed that they knew nothing and therefore, I, the disseminator of all knowledge and information (in my old TEACHER driven classroom) must learn and master the content so that I could show my students how.  

It’s NOT About Me

 

Even when I started to move to a STUDENT centered model I still felt the need to explain everything by giving step-by-step instructions that were two pages long.  This resulted in students not reading the instructions and asking one another or myself how to do something.  But, more importantly, it PREVENTED me from trying anything that I was not an expert in because I “Don’t have time to learn it.”

 

I ALSO have found that students are more creative when you loosen the parameters.  They find a way to do things, they use creative thinking skills, they do things you do not expect.  And, if given choice, they tend to go above and beyond your expectations.  They want to use color or add pictures or do a little bit extra because they chose the assignment and they feel like they have the freedom to do it their way.  

 

I used to HATE vague language.  I used to want clear, concise directions and expectations.  Now I like a bit of vagueness that spurs creativity.  I just tell them what I want–but NOT how to do it.  The results have been amazing.  

 

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