Thursday, January 7, 2016

Moving To The Side: Student Project Support #PBLChat #PBL

I've been a big advocate for Project Based Learning. I love watching students create something brand new and share it with the class. I love the look on their face when they finally figure something out and are excited to let everyone know. One of the hard parts of being a super nerdy teacher is getting out of the students' way and letting them explore the project at their own pace.

I currently have students who are working on a project involving Raspberry Pi. I have never used Raspberry Pi before and was eager to learn along with the students as they worked on the project. As they encountered problems, we worked together to brainstorm solutions. At one point, it hit me. I'm  not a member of the project. While it is fun for me to help the students work on something that interests me, I can't be the one that does the Google search to find out why the wifi is not connecting. I can't be the one to figure out why the SD card will not format on the Mac. I love  a challenge and want to answer questions and solve problems, but they need to be my problems, not the problems students are having on a project.

I'm not saying that students should never receive help from teachers. That would be crazy. I'm suggesting that it is important to remember that there are times where it is important to let the kids try and figure it out and explore the possible solutions on their own instead of doing it for them. When I realized I was helping too much, I simply stood up and told them that I trusted they could  figure it out and let me know when they solved the problem.

I think students need to know that their teacher trusts them to solve their own problems and not just do it for them because it is easier. That trust can help build confidence in students and encourage them to try different things and look to tackle larger problems. Some people will call it grit or some other buzz word that is popular, but it is just a simple matter of letting kids do the work and learn from their failures and their successes.

Even though I am super excited about their project and I ended up buying my own Raspberry Pi kit (posts coming soon), I need to remember that their learning journey needs to come first and then I can learn from them when they are done.

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