Week 3: Asking for help


This was the week we were supposed to come back to school after spring break. We didn’t. And so this is the week where we start the transition to really being deliberate in our planning for online learning. It felt less temporary. Which was scary.

The Big Idea: Ask for Help…But how

We heard a lot from teachers that kids weren’t asking for help. And kids weren’t turning in some of their work. Those two things seemed related for MANY kids.

We kind of realized that kids weren’t always good at asking for help. Some were so used to teachers checking in they didn’t know how to be proactive. Other kids were ashamed. Other kids were so worried about their teachers that they didn’t want to bother them. We needed to normalize asking for help. So we provided sentence starters for the kids to use in emails, googlechats, etc.

I have a question…

I don’t understand _____, can you help me?

Is there a good time to chat? 

I know you have told me, but I’m still confused about ____

What do you mean when you say _____? 

Can you remind me where in the instructions it says_____?

I am feeling overwhelmed….

I don’t know where to start….

I don’t think I can get all of this done. Are there other things I can do….

I am trying really hard, but I am struggling….

Can we talk? 

Big Reflection Months Later:

This is something we will come back to throughout the Continuous Learning Program. Kids of all sorts refused to send an email or a google chat message asking for clarity. Some because of pride. Others because they were scared. Some because they couldn’t be bothered. But without being able to see their faces look confused or see their work when they get stuck, teachers were at a loss of how and when to help.

And in reflecting I walked away with more questions than answers. When do we teach kids how to ask for help? Asking for help is such a humbling process, how do we create a safe environment for this? How do we get the shy kid or the perfectionist kid to reach out?

Taking Forward:

An unwillingness to ask for help was something that was seen in almost all populations of our students. It was such a universal stumbling block for our kids that it should be something we teach when we are face to face or online.

I think we need to figure out how to create spaces where kids can safely struggle and stumble. They need a time and space where they can be proactive in asking for help. This can be in more flexible timetable or a more personalized learning. If students are moving at a different pace than all the others they are going to have to learn how to be proactive in asking for help.

Unseen Struggles

At the end of week 2, we were starting to see kids “fall behind” on their work. This would start a process of highlighting kids of concern and myself or the counselor reaching out to see what was up. There were some kids that through this process that I would start to worry about immensely.

Stray Thoughts

The wavy blobs on the slides seemed to match the mood of week 3. Everything felt nebuous and ever changing.

About Rebekah Madrid

MYP Humanities Instructor. International School Teacher in Japan. Google Certified Teacher. Apple Distinguished Educator. National Board Certified Teacher. Traveler & TV Watcher. This is where I write my thoughts about all of the above.
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