Reading Time 2 minutes.
How many times a day do you here the words "I'm stuck" or "I can't do it"? But are they really stuck? For some students it is easier not to try than to fail and have people laugh at you, for others it is that they do not have the confidence to try.
In Jim Smith's book The Lazy Teacher's Handbook he has some great strategies for getting students to think for themselves when confronted with that anguished cry "Sir/Miss, I'm stuck!". My favourite responses are:
- What would someone who wasn't stuck do?
- Would you be able to have a go if I offered you a £1 million?
- and top of the list; the Billy Ocean Method. Simply play a snippet from the video "When the going gets tough, the tough get going" until they agree to have a crack at it.
The fact that any of these things work is amazing. They shouldn't. Not if a student is really stuck. The point is they're not really stuck, they are afraid to fail. I firmly believe that teaching students that it is OK to fail is one of the most important things a teacher can do and having a safety net to make them feel safe to try and fail is one of the most powerful tools a teacher can possess.
We should all promote failure in our classrooms or at least the concept that it is OK to fail. But we need to make students feel safe to attempt things they wouldn't normally try, we need to establish routines to help them. In an attempt to promote this message please share below the routines you have that give students the confidence to try new things in your classroom, what are your stuck routines? To get you started, here are a few of my own:
- Students write answers/ideas/concepts about a topic on whiteboards and these are kept on a desk at the front of the room. If a student is particularly stuck they can refer to a whiteboard
- Give students two tickets at the start of the lesson, this is how many times they can ask for help from the teacher or another student. They give a ticket away each time they ask for help. The student with the most tickets at the end of the lesson gets a prize for helping others learn (as we as commendations of course).
- The classic 4 B's. Brain, Book, Buddy, Boss (in computing we can substitute book with Google)
So these are some of my routines, please comment below and share yours. This is one way we can all contribute to help each other with our classroom practice.