In my last post I wrote about the importance of learning a new skill and the value of play time. I recently taught myself to crochet. It has been so much fun playing and not receiving any feedback from my peers. I have made five scarves so far. A few are a little wonky, but that’s okay. I wanted to have that moment of pride of doing something all on my own. So a few weeks in and now I feel I’m ready for some feedback. I know a few stitches but I’m struggling to complete a few projects. I tried to make a set of legwarmers for my dancing daughter. I ended up making a puffy sleeve but I learned a lot about my errors. I spoke with a friend who happens to crochet and we talked about a few important things that I didn’t previously understand about reading the patterns.
I was able to make a correction and redo the leg warmer. Well, it actually meant ripping out the rows many times and restarting again and again. It took me a while to get to the point of being able to rip out my work. I thought about the many times the bells ring in class and the students must ‘rip up’ their buildings and put away their towers. I have a little more empathy for those who have struggled to make something for the first time. I usually take a photo and then ask them to put away the blocks. As often as possible we leave up structures and put up signs. However, some days we need space and all blocks and creations must go away. I’m glad I have the recent reminder of how it feels to see your work taken apart.
My daughter provided a lot of feedback on the sizing of the leg warmer. I constantly asked her to try it on and together we figured out what was needed. So, I’ve had my big exploration time, now I need feedback. Hmm…
The other day, I was sitting in the back seat as my daughter drove and my husband sat next to her. She has been driving for many months now and she is currently receiving professional driving lessons from a licenced driving school. As I sat in the back and listened to the conversation I marveled at how the feedback cycle needed to change for my daughter. I recall our first driving session in the parking lot when she needed a lot of direction and confirmation. Now she just needs a few reminders about what to do. In this case the feedback is needed in the beginning of the learning and the feedback lessens as her skills develop. The reverse of what I needed when I began my crochet learning journey.
The feedback cycle might be different depending on the learner, the task and the skills needed. Now I understand why some teachers struggle with inquiry learning in the classroom. It presents a totally different feedback cycle. There is not a specific formula. We are always searching for one, but it doesn’t exist. That’s what makes our profession so interesting and so essential. We need to be constantly differentiating our feedback based on our learners, our tasks and our experiences.