My dog’s been struggling with back leg neuropathy – it’s very hard for him to get himself standing. This morning, cheering him on rather than helping him up, I was reminded about the delicate balance of teaching: when to give a boost and when to let a student try.
My dog maintains his strength a little more every time he does it himself. So as much as he begs for help, at least some of the time I have to back up and tell him, “You can do it!” His struggle is what keeps him moving forward.
The same is true of learners. Every new skill you learn requires failure on the road to success. If, as a teacher, you perennially intercede to give students a boost, you are actually preventing them from growing their own strength.
Of course, sometimes I give my dog a boost. It’s a long day, and his frustration increases the more times he fails. And I give learners boosts too–that feeling of success can be a motivator to help them push through the inevitable failures of learning.
In the end, it’s about finding the balance between giving boosts and letting them grow.