Productive Struggle – Embracing the Messiness of Learning!

I strongly believe in the notion of Productive Struggle as a catalyst for attaining higher levels of learning. This ideal challenges me to be brave in my lesson planning and steadfast in my belief that it is okay if projects are challenging and the work is messy. I have to be comfortable not knowing all the answers and accept that I may meet resistance when the work is particularly difficult. Sometimes it can be easier (and less intimidating) to work towards one ‘right answer’ than to explore the potential of many possible answers. However, that open-ended exploration is where each learner can bring his/her own strengths and talents to bear and apply creativity to develop unique answers and solutions; it is at the heart of innovation.

If my students and I are to benefit from having opportunities for productive struggle, then I must be relentless in my pursuit to create meaningful learning experiences that reach higher levels of SAMR. I must work to create an environment that nurtures creativity, perseverance, and opportunities for problem solving; a climate supportive of risk-taking, individual expression, and failure.

Productive struggle results when learning is messy, when there is more than one answer, and when students must solve challenging problems; it is the acceptance that failure is integral to learning. Lastly, it is a belief that challenge engages us in the learning process and can lead us to higher levels of thinking.

I continue to work towards my goal of building meaningful challenge into our activities. It is a work in progress, but I believe that opportunities for productive struggle will ultimately build grit and perseverance in myself and my students.


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