Jesse did a demo today getting us to explore the idea of assignment making and how our students see our assignments. When she was telling me about it, I thought it was such a powerful inquiry for thinking about "why" sometimes students don't seem to follow directions, but the way she went about the demo opened the inquiry up for me in an even deeper way. Because one person had to be blindfolded and then guided (kept safe) by the assignment maker while trying to fulfill the assignment, we really got into an amazing discussion about the trust that we are asking students to have in us when we make assignments and take them up. Christin was my partner. You see her consternation at being blindfolded.
So, now, I'm seriously thinking about anxiety and trust issues when I struggle with my students trying to get them to risk and explore, when they get so aggravated with me when I won't give them an example or describe exactly "what I want." I do that because I know that when I leave some space for interpretation, they come up with ideas I could never dream of, but, that is a HUGE HUGE risk. I think I need to do more to earn their trust, to really help them feel that I have them, that I won't let them trip, or fall off the top of a building or get smooshed by a car.
And I think this all comes back to "help." Is "help" telling someone exactly what to do, or is it giving the support to explore and amaze. How do "helpers" in schools, groups who come to "help" the "underprivileged children" define "help." Heck, how do I define it when I'm asked to "help" with a school's writing program?