As I handed Sebastian the black marker today to complete his writing task, he said, “But can I use a red marker?” As a logical adult, and for the sake of not having to take the time to search for a red marker, I was inclined to say, “It doesn’t matter buddy. Just use this one.” But then I stopped and was reminded of the idea that these simple choices many times carry more power than we know.
We all like to feel “in charge” of what we are doing and how we are doing it. From the way we keep our house clean to how we drive, most people feel empowered by being able to do things as they see fit. It creates a sense of ownership. Similarly for our students, it is important that they feel in control of their learning and their work. And while we can’t just allow students to have free reign, it’s these small choices that give them ownership of what they are learning. And with this ownership, students tend to be more self-reflective, self-directed and willing to take on academic challenges.
After I found a red marker and handed it to Sebastian, he quietly thanked me and began to write. And as soon as he finished the final word on his paper, he looked up at me and said, “See Miss Liford, it just looks so much better in red. Black is boring and doesn’t fit because what I’m writing about is NOT boring!” I approvingly nodded my head, and when I saw the high quality of his work, instantly knew that it was worth allowing him the opportunity to choose the red marker.