Week 36: Process

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Eventually, students will need to produce a product to demonstrate their understanding and application of knowledge.  However, I found to get there, I need to really take a close look at the process to get to that point.  Like any journey, you have the destination in mind. You have a map and maybe even a step-by-step direction outlined to get there. You might even know the turns and bumps to anticipate if you have traveled down the same path.  What is hard to calculate is how the other cars around you will operate.  You would have to adjust as you go along. I learned teaching students how to adjust when they encounter obstacles is part of the process that was missing when group production comes to a halt. I needed to teach them how to independently problem-solve so they can move on to producing a product successfully.

Rather then tell them the problem(s) I noticed, I had students debrief and had them identify the obstacles.  Then, as a class, we came up with possible solutions. We asked the successful group(s) if they had similar problems and what they did.  I think giving myself permission to “detour” from the main objective of the lesson provides an authentic and meaningful lesson to teach students life skills that are often necessary but not explicitly spelled out or even left out in the curriculum.  Yet, when these skills are addressed early on, students are equipped to use what they know from producing one type of product to different types of collaborative group products.

In our debriefing, we learned that the members of the successful groups all took a job rather than leave all the work to be completed by the facilitator.  The members of the group took the initiative to find a way to help accomplish the goal.  (For example, one looked for a chart with the words they needed, another got the book to refer to and another one got the correction tape.)  We also redefined what it means to be a facilitator because one of the facilitators whined and got upset because he wasn’t getting his way.  The group, of course, spent time arguing with the facilitator.  This led to talking about time management as part of the process and give and take.  When solutions come from the students, they have ownership.  The teacher is no longer seen as the enforcer or “police” keeping with the driving metaphor. They also see the purpose of why they need to cooperate and have self-discipline.

It has been said that sometimes you have to go slow to go fast. Assessing what students need to be successful is key.  Taking the time to teach the process is time well invested. I think when students learn how to identify the obstacles, problem-solve to overcome them, and effectively communicate they will be able to accomplish more in the long run.  Putting the product before the process is like putting the cart before the horse.  Moral of the story: Put the horse in front of the cart and you will more likely get to your destination every single time! 



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