Sometimes, we secondary educators can get into a funk of believing that we need not teach our students how to best work at learning in our classrooms. Some of us think this kind of work just isn't something we should have to do; others think that to teach these things would be boring or insulting to our students.
- This is sixth grade — they ought to have learned how to be organized previously.
- This is eighth grade — they ought to know how to treat one another respectfully regardless of differences.
- This is tenth grade — they ought to know how to work hard at getting better at writing.
- This is twelfth grade — they ought to know how to enter the classroom effectively.
And we can even tell ourselves that these presumptions are built on a factor widely regarded — and rightly so — as a good force in education: high expectations.
But thinking of high expectations like this is a classic example of an almost-but-not-quite. It results, for too many students, in frustration and alienation.
So, should you expect your students to do hard things?
Should you expect them to push themselves toward their optimal personal best?
But — but! — if you don't ***teach them how to do these things,*** you've dropped them ten miles off the coast of California and expected them to swim the rest of the way to Hawaii. Expect all you want, in such cases — it will amount to nothing more than drowning.
So teach. Teach! Teach everything and anything that you expect your students to do well.
And then, reinforce it with relentless passion and optimism and gentleness and zeal.
Leave little to chance.
Model the processes. Give examples and non-examples. Reinforce. Remind. Again and again, all with an eye toward how they're coming along in getting good at the things you're asking them to do.
Because this is the work.
And it's good.