Setting the Bar Too High??

--Originally published at Flipped Learning

"Set a goal SO BIG that you can't achieve until you GROW into the person who can." ~Unknown

Education holds a rather unique position in the development and growth of students. Educators are responsible for delivering content and competencies while simultaneously fostering critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, innovation, and analyzing skills. While educators at many levels have ventured into flipped learning to varying degrees, the greatest truth from all educators is the desire to spend more time with students. As flipped learning provides this desired time, educators are then faced with evaluating the use of the time, student engagement, and the expectations of student learning.

When asked "how do I know if the bar is set to high in my flipped class", I had to chuckle a little at the notion of students not being pushed too hard. Can an educator really push students to hard? While it might be easy to simply say YES, the really answer lies within the approach instructors take in getting students to do what they think may be impossible. As educators, we must realize that what students believe about themselves as learners matters. We must be willing to push them beyond what they think they are capable of and helping them understand that not every challenge they face will be easy.


Likewise, we must also be willing to teach them that it's okay to fail at something in school. To fail (First Attempt In Learning) is part of the learning process - to learn from their mistakes and make changes is how we foster critical thinking, problem solving, and analyzing skills in our students. Let's think about this notion for a moment - imagine you are going to get blood drawn from a hospital. Would you be excited to know that the nurse drawing your blood is doing so for the first time? Or what about the sub-contractor building your house - would it put you at ease to know he's learning how to frame the house for the first time?

You see, education is suppose to be about learning - making mistakes in practice to be able to perform in the crunch. If we are expecting students to be perfect on the first attempt, then why aren't they already out in industry, putting their skills to use. As educators, we must be willing to allow our students to make mistakes at appropriate times, and teach them how to become creative and innovative in fixing their mistakes. We want our students to grow into people that can make changes based on evidence they've witnessed or mistakes they've made.

Ironically, many of our educational systems are too focused on grades, rather than the content to be learned. How do I know? I am reminded of my days as a high school math teacher in Lomira, WI where it was decided that the minimum percentage to pass a class was going to move from 60% to 70%. You can imagine the uproar that ensued from students and parents alike that raising the bar was nor fair for anyone involved. Low and behold, one year after implementation, the number of students failing classes was actually less than prior years. You see, students knew they needed to work just a little harder to meet the bare minimum to pass a class! Students know where the bar is set and will do what they need to get there.

Don't ever be afraid to set your bar high! As we are preparing students to meet the demands of tomorrow's work force, we prepare them for jobs that may not even exist yet. Through fostering opportunities to be creative, innovative, problem solvers, critical thinkers, and analyzers, we give them opportunities to be successful in an arena that is always changing!

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