Ability vs. Desire

I’m a runner… sort of. Since 2011 I’ve completed numerous 5Ks, two 10Ks, and one half marathon. I’ve committed to doing another half in November, so I have been increasing my miles to begin a training plan. Last night my husband Tom and I were heading out for a 5 mile walk/run – same route we completed the night before. As we start out we discuss the walk/run plan for me. He said, “Let’s walk the first mile and a half for a warm-up, run the middle three, then walk the last half for a cool down.”

“Ummm… no,” was my response.

“Why not?” he said, “You can do it!”

“Yes, but ability and desire are two entirely different things!”

That’s really it, isn’t it? I know I have the ability to run a full three miles without a walk break… but why? The hills around my WV home are like roller coasters, and I really prefer running when gravity is working with me, not against me.

Our students are no different. Do they have the ability to read that story? Most likely. Do they have the desire? Not on your life… Can they learn that information? Yes. Will they? probably not.  Now, understand that we do have excellent, over-achieving students who will learn and achieve in spite of us, but those are not the students we need to be concerned about.

A few weeks ago I sat in a Will Richardson session at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2015 conference in Philadelphia. Several things he said really resonated with me… wanted to shout out an AMEN!, but I found some self-control. Richardson said, “Students are more engaged in the work if they have a part in making decisions in how the work is to be done.”

Throughout the Differentiated Instruction phase of the swinging Education pendulum, I balked against designing different lessons for each of my students… there are too many of them with so many different learning styles… but I can do this. I can allow my students to have a part in making decisions about the process. The times I have done this in the past haven’t always been successful for all students, but it was a start.

As I head into this new year, I am planning to dive into the Project Based Learning (PBL) strategies I keep reading about. That is one of the purposes of this blog. If you follow me, you will read about my excitement, angst, successes, and failures, and hopefully you can increase your own desire to help your students to be willing and able to be successful in your class!

Well, I ran most of the middle three miles, but I did not beat myself up about any walk breaks I chose to take. My feet still carried me for five, hilly, WVa miles…and that is success to me!