Teaching The Process Will Have A Greater Pay Off

3rd Grade teacher explains the importance of teaching our children process rather than just doing everything for them

Yesterday in class I literally witnessed a student having a meltdown. It was physical as well as emotional as he slumped into his chair, put his head onto his desk and laid it there in a puddle of tears.

“Over what?” you may ask.

Finding and fixing his own mistakes.  I’m so lucky to have a UCSC student teacher, Mr. M, in my third grade class at De Laveaga Elementary. Often when he is teaching I am able to observe the students and, boy, is it fascinating.

Mr. M asked this boy to self-correct on a simple weekly assignment. He gave him the necessary tools and instruction and headed off to help another struggling student. In my opinion, this is excellent teaching.

However, observing this I realized that this teaching style will not work unless we make some serious changes.  Time to speak up, AGAIN.

It is so much easier for us to DO things for our children rather than TEACH them HOW to do them. I remember my own father telling me this about the tying shoelaces analogy.  It took forever for me to learn how to tie my shoes. It would have been so much easier for him or my mother to just tie them for me. But, back in the dark ages when I went to kindergarten, you had to know how to tie your own laces before they admitted you into school. 

Not so today. We are all so rushed keeping afloat in this crazy economy that we forget the important things: our children. At the moment we are rushed it seems so much easier to just DO the task for the child, but if you sit down and ponder this thought for a moment, the pay-off in the end is much better if we take the time to sit down and explain the process to the child. 

Children innately want to help themselves.  They just don’t have the know-how or skills to do so. It is our job to teach them HOW to get from point A to point Z and all of the steps between them 

Imagine a world where children have problem-solving skills…where they know how to find their own mistakes and auto-correct…where they know how to talk to each other in a language other than text.

Ohhh, I’m getting goose bumps!

On a serious note, though, if students knew how to problem solve and self-check, teachers could spend so much time teaching above and beyond the curriculum we are assigned.  Students would learn more. Our beloved students and children would morph into better and smarter people.


Test scores would go up.

Here I go again….

Joshua Vincent October 19, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Someone that actually educates, what a novel concept. Couldn't agree more about the importance of process. It's so important in art, life, love, learning ...
Aleta Lewis October 19, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Love this Sheila. This is why when you come to my house, my toilets are not sparkling....the 9 year old does it! Learning come at the crossroads of support and challenge. If we do it for them, sure our 'toilets' in life will be cleaner, but then we have adults who have been taught entitlement and dependence.
Pamela October 19, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Great article, Sheila. This fits into the Gradual Release of Responsibility, where the teacher scaffolds and guides until the student can perform independently, instead of 'assigning learning.' Instructional practice at its best. (Pearson, Frey & Fisher).


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