There are three thoughts I found helpful to keep in mind while looking for an answer.
First, to sustain or revitalize a student’s curiosity and love for learning. Beliefs about one’s capabilities are being established during those defining moments – when learning is difficult.
Second, to provide the tools and strategies for students to be able to help themselves during those defining moments. We can do this without separate “how to learn” lessons, removed from actual lessons or projects. Every learning challenge a student faces is an opportunity for them to develop and strengthen an “I can” mindset.
Third, to be aware of when to step back and let students experience learning for themselves. Throughout my years as an educator I came to realize how easily my words, tone of voice, facial expressions, and actions could send a message that would interfere with a student’s opportunity to act on their own. I am very mindful of this as I want to be sure they learn to think, say or do for themselves.
I watch children as they play. While playing they are learning and it’s fun.
They are typically engaged by games that are challenging. They overcome obstacles that interfere with their progress. To improve or to win they learn to focus, bounce back from failure and persevere. When we present a learning challenge lets connect the dots for them and help them realize, “Been there, done that”. Learning challenges may be difficult, yet fun.
Shift from the role of teacher, one who presents a learning challenge and solution, to coach, one who prompts students to think, “This is difficult, so what can I do about it?” – just as they do in a game!
Rather than putting the emphasis only on the lesson goal, step back and support the child in ways that help them take ownership of the process. They will begin to realize that the process matters and it’s how difficult becomes fun!
I created OBST to represent obstacles, a fun way for students to view the learning challenge they face – as an opportunity to outsmart OBST. When they focus, bounce back from mistakes, problem solve and persevere OBST begins to fall apart and eventually collapse. It is a way to reach that one particular student, or to create a class culture of: “We make difficult possible!”
I welcome your thoughts on how to help students realize that “difficult” can be fun.
For more about Outsmart OBST: http://atmotivate.com/?p=676
Angelo Truglio Founder of www.icandothatkids.com