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.


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