This week’s #eduread article is Faster Isn’t Smarter by Cathy Seeley. The premise of the article is that US students haven’t been taught to think because they haven’t been presented with the kind of material that requires it from them.
It’s a delicate line that a teacher must walk when deciding just the right problem to put in front of students. Cathy Seeley uses the term “constructive struggle,” but this experience has also been called productive struggle. Productive struggle occurs when a teacher has provided a problem that poses just the right amount of challenge. Students are engaged because they are intrigued and have enough confidence to feel that they can see the mathematical work through to the end.
Cathy Seeley says:
Constructive struggling occurs when an effective teacher knows how to provide guiding questions in a way that stops short of telling students everything they need to know to solve a problem.
This is the most important part. For me…this boils down to a teacher’s ability to question, which is impacted by a teacher’s level of content knowledge. Further, the effective teacher needs to be able to listen to different pairs of students, quickly recognize the method of approach/level of skill, and then provide thoughtful questions according to the needs of the individual students.
If the students aren’t provided just the right amount of support…
…the stronger students aren’t getting anything out of it and
…the struggling students become frustrated and feel inept.
So, it is the teacher’s job to: (1) provide interesting, engaging, complex problems, (2) tailor questions according to students’ needs (3) provide meaningful feedback that helps the students to reflect and revise.
This isn’t easy. It’s hard…and it’s nuanced.
Creating an environment of constructive struggle in the classroom requires a balance of many things. And…it has to be done with a classroom filled with ~25 students.
These are the things I think about daily.
A few more articles to get ya’ thinkin’… (I haven’t read any of these…but have saved them)
Day 2 of challenge. done.