Podcast for Parents: Schoolwork vs. Learning Tasks (Part 2) - Steve Barkley

Podcast for Parents: Schoolwork vs. Learning Tasks (Part 2)

Parent Well-Being and Student Learning During School Closures

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on education, I’ve started a new podcast grouping called Parent Well-Being and Student Learning During School Closures. The hope is that these podcasts can be forwarded on to parents by teachers, schools, and districts to help support them and in their new role with their children during this time. Feel free to send me your questions or suggestions that I can share with others. You can contact me at sbarkley@PLS3rdLearning.com. Thank you for listening.

steve barkley, part 2: schoolwork vs. learning tasks

This podcast explores how by simply shifting our words and perspective from ‘schoolwork’ to ‘learning tasks’ you can help your children be successful in their daily lessons. Learn how to engage in learning production behaviors so the learning outcomes can occur.

Subscribe to the Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud podcast on iTunes or visit BarkleyPD.com to find new episodes.

PODCAST TRANSCRIPTSteve [Intro]: 00:01 Hello and welcome to the Parent Well-Being and Student Learning During School Closures edition of the Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud podcast. With the extended closing of schools, we as parents have entered into a new territory regarding what we have known as “school” learning. With this and future podcasts, I’ll look to share my experiences as a teacher, educator, parent, grandparent, and continuous learner.

Steve: 00:33 In this series, I’m exploring learning. How we as parents support students’ learning, our children’s learning. In this podcast, I’d like to address a possible switch in our language from using the word work to using the word learning. How does it change if we stop talking to our youngsters about completing their work, their homework, their schoolwork, and instead replaced it with it’s time or it’s necessary to tackle the next learning task. Alfie Kohn, the author of the book, “Punished by Rewards,” created an article titled Students Don’t Work, They Learn. Quoting Alfie Kohn, “Every time we talk about homework or seat work or work habits, everytime we describe the improvement in or assessment of a student’s work in class, every time we urge children to get to work or even refer to classroom management, we are using a metaphor with profound implications for the nature of schooling. In effect, we’re equating what children do to figure things out with what adults do in offices and factories to earn money.

Steve: 02:16 When working, we tend to be motivated by external extrinsic rewards. Usually a paycheck learning tends to have as an outcome the
learning and that learning is actually the reward. Learning can be fun. It can be challenging, it can require discipline, it can require practice, and rehersals and repetition. Learning can require perseverance when initial attempts to learn fail, but the payoff in learning is accomplished not by the work being finished because too often the work gets finished, but the learning didn’t occur. Mastery, success, improvement, seeing the results of our efforts, producing learning becomes the reward.” The phrase that I like to use for this is learning production behavior. It kind of sounds complicated, but it means what is the learner doing that is causing the learning to happen? I really began to focus on this when I realized teachers don’t cause student learning. Students cause student learning.

Steve: 03:56 It’s what the student is doing that is producing the learning result. Now the task of the teacher is to design those learning behaviors and to provide the appropriate task to get the student to complete or carry out the behaviors. Examples are quite clear when we look at the performing arts area. You see, I can’t teach you how to play your trumpet. I can provide you with the activities, the learning production behaviors, which if you engage in those behaviors, the learning outcome will occur. I thought deeply about this several years back when a school asked me to speak to a group of parents and they had a concern because they thought the parents were doing students’ homework. And when I met with the parents, I said to them, would any of you take your child’s instrument and go into the room and practice it for 20 minutes and think that your child would return to school the next day as a better performer.

Steve: 05:11 And after the laughter, it dawns, unless the student is the one engaged in the learning production behavior, the the learning isn’t going to happen. So it’s important as a parent, as your encouraging your youngster, think less about encouraging them to quote, finish the task, but instead to focus on what are they doing that is going to cause the learning to take place and then to be looking for evidence back to the student that the learning in effect is occurring. As a simple example, my granddaughter came home from school with her flute on the first day and she said, pop pop I need to practice. Practice is a learning production behavior. She said, pop pop, I need to make this sound on my flute for 10 seconds. Will you time me? And then she didn’t even put the flute together.

Steve: 06:13 She just began blowing in the first little mouthpiece and out came this screeching sound. But when I could tell her that she held the sound for 10 seconds, she knew that the activity she was engaging was causing her to gain a skill, “learn” and improve her performance. Look for examples that you might be able to present to your son or daughter. How you are engaged in a learning production behavior. As an example, I’m currently studying German on Duolingo, and my son in law is working to learn Italian. My grandkids watch both of us and label what we’re doing as practicing our language. The label of doing that activity as work doesn’t occur. In matter of fact, Dad has to finish his work that he brought home with him before he can begin the learning practice activity. Consider modeling that learning activity for your youngster.

Steve: 07:33 What’s that recipe you’re looking to cook for the first time and you go to YouTube and download the video. What do you do as a learner to engage and learn from the video? Watch as your child tackles a new game on their iPad and talk about what they are doing to learn as a production behavior. If you look over their shoulder during math, you can identify similar learning production behaviors. When students focus on the behaviors of learning, we’re communicating an important message. Folks, learning how to learn is one of the most important skills for our students to be gaining. In this time of learning at home where you can reinforce for them that they are engaged in learning behaviors can be extremely important. Here’s one more phrase to add to your vocabulary. The phrase is “not yet.” When your child looks up at you frustrated with a “assignment” that they were to complete and they’re lost or confused and they yell out, “I can’t do this” quickly, add to their statement, not yet.

Steve: 09:11 What does not yet mean? Not yet means I need more learning production behavior. Point out to them the many times that they initially tackled learning in a sport or in an activity or in a game where they were unsuccessful. What caused them to reach future success was that they stuck with the learning production behavior. Take a moment and look at a task that your child is currently working to complete and identify for them what the why of that activity is. It’s not designed as a piece of work that needs to get done. At least I hope not. It should be designed as a task that is engaging the learner in the learning production behaviors that will lead to their success. I hope you’ve found some elements in this podcast to explore and expand your child’s learning and your own. I’ll look to continue exploring home learning in future podcast. Feel free to send in your questions or suggestions. I can share them with others and I can respond to you. You can reach me at sbarkley@pls3rdlearning.com. Sbarkley@pls3rdlearning.com.

Steve [Outro]: 11:01 Thanks again for listening. You can subscribe to Steve Barkley Ponders Out Loud on iTunes and Podbean and please remember to rate and review us on iTunes. I also want to hear what you’re pondering. You can find me on twitter @stevebarkley or send me your questions and find my videos and blogs at barkleypd.com.

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