Shifting Views: Process vs Product

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By Mary Clements

There’s something special about our Les Petites Pommes parents, I’ve witnessed it since the first day we started in 2009. While wanting your children to succeed is a pretty universal goal, our parents have a dream that goes even further and it’s what has brought them to LPP.

Learning a second language isn’t mandatory. It’s something extra that takes an investment of time, money, creativity, dedication and perseverance.

The road towards French language mastery is not short and there are many different paths and combinations of learning from places like French immersion, core, Montessori, private school, homeschool, French extracurriculars, exchanges, private tutors, family trips, family members, solo trips, online learning and the list goes on.

Parents have shared with me their dreams and goals for their children to have not only the career and economic advantages that being capable in multiple languages can bring, but even further, the richness, connection and opportunity for meaningful and exciting experiences that contribute to a happy and fulfilled life. Our parents are organized, resourceful and want to see results as they help their child pursue this goal and we’ve been privileged to be part of their assembled team.

During pandemic, the way students are getting their work done has changed. For many, it has slowed down, they are confused by vague instructions on their e-learning platforms and challenged with navigating their school work without their usual supports. While this is hard for students, it’s also hard for parents who have a dream for their children that has now taken a different route.

Let’s use this time to shift our focus from the product to noticing more about the process. For example, this week my grade 3 student showed me her completed and typed out reading response assignment. I noticed it was much shorter then her usual, very neatly written out, pre-pandemic responses. I asked her about this and she said that she can’t type yet. I suggested to her writing out the responses and taking a picture and assured her that it’s unlikely her teacher would mind. She responded that she really wanted  to learn to type fast like me. I paused and realized I was focused too much on the end results that I almost undermined a perfect opportunity for her to improve her typing skills. I gave her a great acknowledgement and praise for her goal. Her marks can’t go down right now, she’s very capable of completing reading responses, let’s explore this different route.

Another example comes from one of my male high school students.  Pre-pandemic he is fully scheduled with extracurriculars and competes in many high-level sports. He’s never had to worry about how to plan his day, it was very clearly laid out with not much free time to spare. Since closures, he has reinvented his schedule Many times and showed me during our weekly lesson. His newest schedule variation includes a 6am workout (last week it was 10pm) video game/youtube afternoon and 30 minute slots of school work dispersed throughout. Whether or not this “optimized schedule” as he calls it improves his work immediately is less my concern, but more that he’s curious and independently collecting information about how to create an effective schedule for himself.

Students right now are experimenting with how their work gets done. I’d like to challenge our parents to not get caught up in the products as our results and achievements are going to look different right now. Placing value and having curiosity around their process will provide them with space, confidence and safety as they experiment and navigate these new ways of learning.