Do you remember being a kid and scrambling to complete an assignment before the end of class just so you didn’t have homework? Or, as a teacher, rushing to shout last minute directions to clean up a lab or finish a project just as the bell is ringing and your room is still in chaos?
All of these self-imposed deadlines create stress. Stress for students and stress for teachers. We are attempting to make perfect packets of 46 minute learning experiences for each child, each day and it does not work.
In fact, it will never work. And to save ourselves and our students, we need to stop trying.
In a self-paced classroom, students have control over their learning. When they are feeling well-rested, focused and motivated, kids can easily make connections and build an understanding of the world around them. They can accomplish a great deal in one class period. When kids are tired or stressed, they can take it slow. Perhaps it takes them two or three days to grapple with a topic and make connections. That’s OK. Learning is the important part.
As educators, we need to acknowledge that each child’s learning experience will be different. Then, we need to build an environment that truly honors and supports these differences.