The Comments That I Can’t Ignore!

Comments: utterances on numerous topics. At any given time, in any given conversation, so many comments are made. These comments are often innocent, and yet many times, these words hold value. I’ve often been told before not to let words bother me. I’m getting better at this. But there are some comments that I can’t ignore.

  • Play-based learning isn’t working.
  • Students only need direct instruction.
  • Inquiry is just a phase.
  • Students don’t learn in this “new way.”

I know that everybody comes at teaching and learning from a different perspective. I know that all students are different, and what works for one child may not work for another one. I know that there’s value to many practices in moderation, and it’s hard to dismiss something entirely, when it might benefit some students at some point in time. I know that often our “ideal” is not a reality, and sometimes we need to adjust our teaching practices based on a variety of factors.

And yet, saying all of this, it still makes me feel sad to think that play-based and inquiry learning are just seen as “phases,” and that direct instruction (which for some reason seems to equate to blackline masters) is the only way to help students learn. Please don’t get me wrong: I do a lot of direct teaching. This is rarely full class teaching though: not all students need the same instruction at the same time. But I also encourage students to think, explore, and problem solve, and I’m glad that I do. Today definitely showed me that!

This afternoon, I shared this math problem with my students. I was amazed! At many times, plans didn’t work, but not one child gave up. Students modified their plans. They changed their materials. Some students even started again. And not once did a student come to me for help. They asked their friends or they worked through the problem on their own. Direct instruction can allow us to teach many skills, but play-based and inquiry learning is what teaches students to think, try, reflect, and try again. I want this for my students!

What do you want for your students (or as a parent, for your child), and what approaches allow them to achieve these goals? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!


2 thoughts on “The Comments That I Can’t Ignore!

  1. Change is hard for people. When they are out of their comfort zone, it literally feels uncomfortable. You are a teacher who is OK with feeling uncomfortable. If only more did.

    • Thanks for the comment Sue! After having just read your recent blog post, and now reading these words, I’m thinking even more about my “greatest strength” and how it could be my “greatest weakness.” I feel another blog post coming on. 🙂 Thanks, as always, for giving me so much to think about!


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