Holding the Spoon

This blog post was written by Sandy Shedenhelm. Sandy is a Senior Director of Powerful Practices at Battelle for Kids. She creates and leads professional development workshops and curriculum to help educators at all levels.  Sandy taught English language arts and social studies. 


 “We complain that our students want to be spoon fed, yet we don’t let them hold the spoon.”

Wow, this quote really resonates with the teacher in me.

For many years in the classroom, I definitely held the spoon. I liked it. I became a teacher so I could hold the spoon. Let’s face it:  loved the control. I thought my students would learn more if the spoon remained in my capable hands. I was directing the class. I was doing most of the talking and most of the doing. As it turned out, I was doing most of the learning, too.

Over time I learned that I needed to let go, and put a spoon in every child’s hands and teach them how to use it. Not only did stidents start to feed themselves, they started feeding each other, too. They were learning more. Better. Faster.

This “spoon-holding”, known as student ownership or self-reliance, is happening in so many classrooms. It is happening where students are being taught how to take control of their own learning. It starts with students being 100% clear about what they are learning, why they are learning it, and what it looks and sounds like when done well. It continues with teaching students how to self-assess, how to give and receive effective feedback, and how to communicate about their learning.

I was fortunate to spend some time at Reynoldsburg High School eSTEM Academy where students are holding the spoon; not every once in a while but on a regular basis. I want to thank the leaders and teachers who allowed me bring cameras into their classrooms so I could showcase a snippet of the amazing teaching and learning that occurs daily in Ohio classrooms.

I invite you to enroll in the online module below, FIP in Action: Spotting FIP in Engineering, Math, and Science Classrooms. You can hear from the students themselves. ‘Holding the spoon’ is just how school is for these students. And they love it.