In my role as coach and as a facilitator I have spent a lot of time explaining and more importantly modeling the Gradual Release of Responsibility. The beliefs this theory reflect are essential to creating independent, thinking, questioning students. I think it is core to who I am as a teacher but also as a parent.

Today the reality of GRR  bit me in the but, challenging everything I believe in. Am I wrong? Are the teachers who tell me they can’t do it right? Are fill-in-the-blank worksheets and silent kids really the better way?

What led me to this questioning today?

I saw my daughter off at the airport as she left with her high school travel club, to Thailand. We have raised her well. She is an intelligent, independent mature young lady, full of life and wanting to spread her wings and have some adventures of her own. She is excited to share her adventures with her peers. But she has a peanut allergy and I am terrified of letting her go.

We starting out doing everything for her, making our way together through showing her and letting her try, to letting her become more and more independent giving her both voice and choice, telling her we trusted her and believed in her.

Looking at GRR in this light makes me re-think. It would have been much easier to not let her go. To refuse to help her (cheaper too) and far less worry and stress. Keeping her at home and insisting she do as we ask would have been less stressful, for a while… but when would she start to rebel, hate home, never want to come back to such a controlled environment?

So I return to my GRR beliefs and I have calmed the wild dog. I do believe classrooms must have great models, guidance with  voice and choice, a belief  in student ability to learn with and from each other, allow for practice time and prepare them for a future we will not be a part of and cannot possibly imagine.

Today I have to trust that my daughter will use what she has learned, and that she will adapt that knowledge, learn more, grow and have adventures far beyond my imagination. She will return home with stories and photos and begin teaching me. Now that is exciting and that is the way it should be.

to the beach