Have you ever tried to teach your child to ride a bike??? Back breaking, patience testing, and down-right awful! When my daughter was learning how to peddle on her trainig wheels we would fight, scream, and I would threaten to leave the bike on the raod for the garbage truck. No matter how many times we practiced, it always ended with my little monkey in tears. And me saying I will never do this again.
The cycle repeated and repeated. I am not sure I ever learned from my poor teaching strategy. Each biking session ended in the same fashion. God love my daughter, she, like so many kiddos, had determination to learn. She knew she could do it- even if it meant going out with me. By the end of the summer, she was biking with her training wheels around the block. She was slow, stopped peddling to look around, and, in my opinion, had not mastered the training wheels!
Fastforward one month, and she wanted to bike on two wheels. Ummmmm, no! BUT, like every good parent I gave in and took her out on two wheels. It was more disastrous than the training wheel teaching. We put the bike away for the winter with the training wheels back on it. My daughter vowed never to bike on two wheels and I vowed never to teach her again.
The lessons of the previous summer were forgotten- by my girl. Out popped her bike the next spring. After a few weeks of training wheels, she asked to bike on two wheels. BUT I remembered last year and, like every parent does at some point, I learned from my mistakes. No way were we taking off those training wheels until she was ready. I knew she was not ready- she was still so slow, would stop peddling, and had just not mastered the training wheel.
She wore me down. I finally gave in and said, sure you can try two wheels. I knew if I took off the training wheels, I would most certainly be putting them back on later that day- with an 'I told you so'. I left my tools out and we took the bike across the street. I have heartedly held the back of the bike as she got ready and steadied herself. I put little effort into helping her.
Away she went- to the end of the block. She asked me to help again as she steadied herself and zoom, she was gone. She could do it- she was ready. She knew she was ready....I did not.
My daughter has forgotten about the fights, she has forgotten about how she learned to bike, and how wrong I was about her learning style. I have never forgotten that lesson. On that day, I learned how little I know about children, their skills, and being ready.
As a teacher, I have checklists of expected behaviours, checklists of what children ought to be doing at certain times, and the breakdown of learning skills. Yet, sometimes our children do not match those checklists and timeframes. Sometimes, our children learn in their way, at their pace, and when they are ready. We cannot assume because our students and our children are not demonstrating skills when we want them to that they are not learning them. Chances are they are learning them. The children are listening to the lessons, they are making sense of the knowledge, and they are putting the pieces together. As students listen to our messages, we need to learn to slow down and listen to their messages. Our students have a lot to teach us about teaching and about learning. As teachers, we have a lot to learn- it is our practice. â