Wisdom Begins with Wonder

Make time for… FRUSTRATION!

My students were frustrated yesterday and today. I let them wallow in it.

This is a good thing.

Yesterday, I started the group on a whole class inquiry challenge with minimal direction from me. Students had to lead their planning discussion while I observed and took notes. This discussion didn’t go very well – especially from the perspective of the two class leaders.

In fact, they left my room a bit angry.

This is a good thing.

Why?

I think I saw this face in my classroom today...

I think I saw this face in my classroom today...

Because they were frustrated with their classmates. They were frustrated with those who were not engaging in the process – those who were not participating. They were frustrated with the complexity of the process and the lack of easy answers from the teacher.

Today, the students came in with a renewed sense of purpose and a desire to collaborate. The discussion was much more productive (even though there was one emotional outburst).

I love to cultivate an healthy level of frustration in my classes. I love to see my students struggle, fail, regroup, and try again. My students need this. So do yours.

Some of the most powerful learning I have seen has occurred when students were frustrated – angry even! – and were able to achieve a breakthrough on their own.

Do I need to step in sometimes? Of course. One of the best lessons that experience is teaching me is exactly when to intervene. Jump in to soon and the student never learns independence and the joy of the epiphany. Wait too long and many students will quit. Usually, though, a teacher’s instinct is to give the kids a boost way too soon.

We all need to learn how to deal with frustration, in school, in work, in life.

image used under cc license from the flickr photostream of MarkKelley


1 comment so far ↓

  • #   @KSL on 12.10.10 at 7:06 am     

    Love this!

    Some of the most difficult work I’ve ever done and continue to do is when I have to watch and wait as a student struggles and fails for a moment. It is really hard to wait silently, standing by and doing nothing, but knowing that what they’ll learn in that process is what will enable them to really succeed. It cannot be taught, it must come from the experience and from their own inner process.

    Too many helping hands and hints at answers don’t create self directed insightful leaders. Friction in moderation creates a healthy heat. Keep up the good work!


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