SOL16: Support with Choice

I drop the pills, each into its proper place. Morning, evening, bedtime. Just one thing I do for my once independent parents. The one who held my hand, balanced my bike, pushed and let go, is now the one that holds on to me tightly. If you have parents who live to old age, this is inevitable.

I do this, so they don’t get hurt. But as I do this, I see a cognitive decline and increasing dependence. And while this is necessary, as I do this, I take a little bit of them. They are supported but diminished.

As a teacher, I put up supports for students to hold on to so they can approximate the work they are close to achieving. I think carefully about what supports to set up. Always with an eye to outcomes.

Today I’m wondering what implicit messages I send with supports.  Do they diminish independence? Are students aware that supports are not there to undermine their talents, thoughts, and abilities? Do they know, when I hand them a tool, which it is just a way, not the way to tackle something? Do I set supports up with these thoughts in mind?

Supports, scaffolds are designed to allow the next step, to reach higher without the fear of failure. The tools we give to access ideas, actions, should allow for success and safety but also identity. As I build scaffolds up for my students, I need to be mindful of the person standing there. In my need to get it done, to get to a perceived end goal, I need to hear their voice.

Putting up scaffolds with the intent to take them down is appropriate. And part of that design should allow for the voice and choice. We want the vulnerable to get stronger, to stand on their own without the crutch.To become independent.

How might that look? Scaffolds with a menu of options, allowing for choice and decision making. By offering options, asking for input, we who build scaffolds are implicitly honoring the individual while giving guidance.

My acts of support for my parents and students are different. But there are similarities. I’m in the supporting role. If I’m the person, who saves the day because the parent, the student can’t, am I supporting or minimizing? The more I think about intended and actual outcomes of supports; I realize that choice and voice must be in the spotlight in all phases of our lives.

Just because I’m in charge, for now, means I need to be particularly mindful of voices of those who are not.

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Thank you, Two Writing Teachers for Slice of Life Tuesdays. A place to share our thoughts and slices of our lives. Read more here.

25 thoughts on “SOL16: Support with Choice

  1. Julianne, you keep asking the right questions… making connections between your private life and public, demanding more and more of yourself.. As usual, I’m very impressed and thinking about what you’re thinking…
    Thanks…

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughtful reflections. You’ve left me thinking about how I provide support in the classroom and also in my relationships outside of the classroom.

  3. You are mindful to not go on autopilot. You face challenges and support others in their challenges with heart and head working together. Wishing you continuous strength and wisdom.

  4. wow – your first paragraph brought floods of memories back for me of helping my mother. In my instance it was about helping her to remain as independent as possible and trying to keep her who she had been for as long as possible. It’s hard work this. I see this balance here you are questioning. When is too much? When Is not enough? How do we know it is right? Thanks so much for this thoughtful reminder that it is who we are building supports for that is so important.

  5. Oh this holds so much wisdom: “Just because I’m in charge, for now, means I need to be particularly mindful of voices of those who are not.” I will carry this with me.

  6. Julieanne, I’ve been thinking of you. I appreciate your vulnerability and your wisdom. I love your insight that being “in charge” carries particularly responsibilities to be mindful. XOXOXO

  7. Love that you are always questioning, my friend!

    You are so thoughtful about student roles! So do you wait for them to ask? Do you wait for them to try? Do you ask, “What have you tried?” What questions guide your decision-making with your students?

    You believe and do teach the readers and writers in your classes because you already take this responsibility to heart EVERY day! The parallels (and the new book) now just make you so much more aware!!!

    Thoughts and prayers for you and YOURS!

  8. So touching, Julieanne. I’m going to call upon a specific quote from this in future conversations at school, “Putting up scaffolds with the intent to take them down is appropriate. And part of that design should allow for the voice and choice. We want the vulnerable to get stronger, to stand on their own without the crutch.To become independent.” Thank you for these words.

  9. Julianne, just keep finding that spot on the floor next to the student/parent that says just as you did in the post the other day – I’m not above you, I’m hear with you. You will never go wrong. You do everything with heart and thought.

  10. This line is living in me, too:
    Just because I’m in charge, for now, means I need to be particularly mindful of voices of those who are not.
    Such a hard thing to keep in mind, right?

  11. I thought the juxtaposition of your aging parents with your youthful students made this a very interesting contrast. Struggling with how much to do for someone and paying attention to the messages inherent in our actions are things that Jan and I think about all the time. It’s a complicated business and we only get better when we are mindful about our actions. Thanks for the raw honesty of this post.

    • Complicated indeed. I so appreciate your work. It hits me where it matters. Head, Heart, Hands right? “…the messages inherent in our actions” are powerful. Hard to spot sometimes but that’s what it is to be extremely human. Thank you Kim!

  12. Choice and voice are important for independence. How astute for you to recognize that this is what your parents are giving up as you care for them and exactly what your students need you to lead them to. Profound thinking. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with such honesty.

  13. So well said! There are so many good lines that made me think. I remember so well the growing supports we put around my mother as she could do less and less. Supporting on that end of life is hard because it is not leading to growth. But I think this line still is important. “I realize that choice and voice must be in the spotlight in all phases of our lives.” I worked hard to be sure my mother continued to have a voice and choice in the support we set up for her. Thanks for this wonderful slice.

  14. I feel I still get to catch up in planning out the lesson for the whole and then don’t have the energy to even think about the scaffolds. Your post reminds me that once I get the content down, I can spend the time to ensure I am teaching kids and not only a curriculum. This time of year I find myself saying more and more….next year I’ll do…Your post reminds me that I want to teach each child, giving them just what they need. Thanks for your wisdom.

    • So true about the next year… Every year it gets closer yet as our awareness and knowledge gets better we still have places for improvement. That’s what makes teaching great my friend.

  15. You’ve raised so many important questions here, Julieanne. The difference between supporting and minimizing can be a fine one. I think your recognition of the need for choice and voice is key to helping us understand when we’re doing more than supporting. Thinking of you and your family, my friend.

  16. I have always been the one to give too much support. Can’t let them fail, don’t want to hurt them. And yet, independence is the goal. As much independence as they can handle. I’m always thinking about this topic.

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