The other day I was talking to a colleague who told me about an interesting fact. He said “Did you know a flea can jump about 3 feet high? But if you stick a flea in a gallon jar the flea will jump and hit the lid. After a while the flea will jump up to the lid but not hit the lid. If the fleas have baby fleas the fleas will watch their parents and jump up to the lid but not touch it.”
That fact made me thing for while. If we are not challenging our students we are placing limitations on them. Just like the baby fleas. They can still jump 3 feet, but they don’t know it. That limitation was passed on by the flea parents and the environment they were placed in. Have you thought about the environment you are creating for your students? Is your environment you create in your classroom one that challenges your students, or does it impose limits?
Think about your classroom environment, your teaching skills, and your examples you give your students. What limitations are we placing on our students as they watch us? We need to be cognizant of the environment we create. We need to have a classroom where are students can feel comfortable enough to try, fail, revise, and succeed. Our students need an environment to grow, mature, and develop intellectually.
Every classroom is different, but here is a few things that can help:
- Celebrate successes
- Celebrate failures
- Encourage “back to the drawing board” mentality
- Encourage students to enjoy the process of learning/revising
A large part of limitations can be your teaching skills. As teachers we need to continually hone in our craft. Going to conferences, using YouTube as a resource, or observing exemplary teachers in your building or school district is a great way to help hone in your teaching skills. Staying current of new teaching techniques is a must.
Think about the types of examples you give your students. I always like to give non-examples, or examples of what not to do rather than show good finished examples. Some students who want to please the teachers will often mimic their teachers examples especially “teacher-pleaser” type students. I always like to give my students a rubric with their projects. This way they know what is expected right off the bat. Having that rubric to me is better than an example. This allows them know my expectations, but lets them be free to be as creative as they want.
Really take a look at the classroom environment, your teaching skills, and your examples you give your students. How are you limiting your students? I know that I need to constantly work on all three aspects of those areas. I don’t want to place self-imposed limits on my students. I want them to have a place where they can call their own creative sanctuary.