As October rolls in, you (and your students and staff) are most likely settled into your new routines for the year.  Great time for a quick self-check before the routines become too engrained to change!  First question –  Who’s working harder?  You or your students? 

I remember years back when I first read Robyn Jackson’s book,  Never Work Harder than Your Students and Other Great Principles of Teaching.  It caught me off guard since educators are the hardest working people I know.  (Not students in my experience!) I wondered, ‘was I allowing my students to be the hardest working ones in the room? Was I setting it up that way?’

I thought I was, but it wasn’t until I had my daughter when it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Learning takes time. 
More time than we (think we) have
More time than we (think we) can allocate.  

I remember the day so clearly.  She was ‘learning’ how to use a fork.  Wow!  Cute for sure, but also somewhat painful, quite honestly.  After a few minutes of struggle, of pasta fagioli falling on the floor and off of her fork, I was so tempted to sweep in and (kindly) shove it in her mouth. Give her an assist if you will.  And then I saw myself.

Frequently, we call it scaffolding, but it can also be robbing students of learning.  Often, I think we are DOING so that we can speed up the process of learning.  Ultimately, however, we are robbing students of the learning process and unfortunately, in the process we rob them of the rewards of the doing and the struggle.  We can’t build pathways of resilience, perseverance and pride by missing the real tough, down and dirty work.  We can’t build neural pathways if we don’t actually have the time and the experiences for real learning to happen.  Then we just wind up teaching fractions year after year.

So, early in October, take a step back, if you’re exhausted already, just note- is it possible, perhaps that you are DOING MORE THAN YOUR STUDENTS?

Ask yourself:

*  Who is vetting all of the resources for research?  (Very real world task for students, surely they will need to be do this in the future!)
* Who is providing feedback?  (Stop writing all the notes, have students provide feedback to each other and you’ll be amazed at what you’ll learn from their feedback to each other!)
 Who is generating all of the essential questions?  (Tap student curiosity and create relevance at the same time.)
*  Who is designing the classroom, highlighting student work and creating anchor charts? (Get a team of students to really make it their own, be innovative with the space, and problem solve.)
* Who is doing all of the reading and planning? (Have students pre-read at home or use reading partners in class so everyone is reading and tracking their thoughts, questions and epiphanies!) Check out Marisa Thompon’s TQE method at

You have plenty of time to re-adjust this year.  But nothing happens without pausing and reflecting. Remember, you are preparing them for the future, let them figure things out today so they can do it tomorrow.  

Wishing you less so your students learn more~

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