Thursday, July 12, 2012

Trust and Assignment Making

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?


  1. Your last paragraph with your thinking about the help we give, reminded me about my experience being Laura's assistant. There were a few times where I wasn't exactly a good guide. I would sort of wander off and change my position to her. And whenever I did this, she would search for me...sort of in a panic. But every time, I knew that she was safe (I didn't do this on say, the steps). I know being blindfolded is different than being a student, but in this image, I'm thinking about what I can do to make students feel not just comfortable enough to let go, but also to be aware that I'm close enough. Like with what you are saying about it being a trust issue. It is.

  2. I really relate to the thoughts you expressed about giving help as well as the part about earning student's trust. How do we express this to students in a way they can receive? When I ask them to trust me and let me work with them, do they only hear that through the filter of past experience? How can I communicate more effectively with students? Great stuff generated from an awesome demo!

    By the way, you were a great guide! It was fun to take a risk and experience something new. Thanks for helping me not get killed! = )