A Metaphor Story
Once upon a time, there was a student named Goldilocks. One day, she went for a walk (with a pass) through campus. As she walked, she came across three teachers.
She knocked on the door (and showed her pass) and politely entered the first classroom where the teacher was teaching. Goldilocks decided that the learning looked appealing and sat down to get a taste of that learning.
But when she started to try to take a bite of the learning, she closed her mouth and shook her head. This teacher gave TOO MUCH support! Before Goldilocks had a chance to think, the teacher was telling the class the answers, pointing to the page, and lowering the thinking level to recall level.
Of course, there must be some bears, I mean, students who need that level of support. But not all of them! And certainly not Goldilocks!!
So Goldilocks politely took her hall pass and headed out of that “too hot” class with the TOO MUCH SUPPORT. She walked to the room next door, knocked on the door, showed her pass, and took a seat in the second class. The teacher was giving instructions and Goldilocks thought that maybe this would be the tasty learning that her brain needed that day!
But when she looked at her materials to start learning, she closed her mouth and shook her head again! This teacher gave TOO LITTLE support! Where the first teacher was doing all the work for the students, the second teacher just handed out the assignment and then left the kids to figure it out on their own! Goldilocks didn’t know where to begin, so she just didn’t start anything.
Of course, there must be some bears, I mean students, that don’t need any support with their assignment. But not all of them! And certainly not Goldilocks!
So Goldilocks politely took her hall pass and headed out of that “too cold” class with the TOO LITTLE SUPPORT. She walked to the room next door, knocked on the door, showed her pass, and took a seat in the third class. Goldilocks thought that maybe THIS would be the JUST RIGHT learning that she needed!
In the third class, the teacher was giving support that was JUST RIGHT! Goldilocks sat and stayed all period and learned ALL the things! She learned so much and was so much more successful!
What did that support look like?
- Written AND verbal directions
- Incorporation of visuals with new concepts
- Gradual Release of skills and procedures
- Chunking content and work into manageable pieces
- Differentiation (giving more support to kids who need more and less support to kids that don’t need as much)
- Collaboration (the real kind, not just I-do-the-first-half-and-you-do-the-second-half)
- Using sentence starters for ESOL students
It’s easy, like Billy Joel sings, to “go to extremes”. We all have done it from time to time.
It’s easy to either give TOO MUCH SUPPORT, where we do the learning FOR the kids and they don’t have to do anything. These are the days where we are exhausted because we run around pointing out all the answers, lecturing and telling all the kids what to know, and give them word-for-word notes. It’s TOO MUCH support for almost all kids. They don’t learn much because we-the-teachers are doing all the talking, all the thinking, all the work -- and the kids aren’t doing the thinking, the talking, or the work. They don’t own it.
It’s just as easy (maybe easier?) to give TOO LITTLE SUPPORT. Where we just tell the kids to figure it out on their own, where we just won’t jump in and save them or even help them. The kids don’t learn much here either (except the personally, naturally-intrinsically-motivated kids). This is where even a kid motivated by grades puts her head down and decides not to even try. This is when we had out the assignment, the packet, the work and tell the kids it’s due Friday.
Giving JUST RIGHT SUPPORT is tougher, more “grey area”. JUST RIGHT SUPPORT depends on the kids. Some kids need more support, other kids need less. You have to know your kids -- by data AND personality! You have to adjust what you do a little for each kid, each class. It means that third period might need you to give them six questions and fourth period might only need four. It might mean that 7th period needs the directions written and verbal and choral read aloud -- but first period needs everyone to stop talking about the directions so they can get started and concentrate. JUST RIGHT SUPPORT might mean that sixth period needs to do just the top half of the page, and then get together and check to see if they’re doing it right before moving on to the bottom half -- while second period just needs the time and the quiet to zoom through the whole assignment. Half of fifth period needs you to read aloud to them to help them comprehend the text and the other half doesn’t.
It’s tricky but SOOOOO worth it.
How can we be Goldilocks and give JUST RIGHT SUPPORT (not too much, not too little)? How do you do this? How can you be more intentional about this? As always, I love to ehar from you! Email me at email@example.com