Wednesday, March 27, 2019
What's the Cognitive Task?
I love writing on my "prescriptive days." On my open days, I struggle often with what to write. I love learning and I love the challenges of learning. I have been more often than not reminded of the challenges for learners as I watch my daughter play water polo this spring. For example, tonight when my daughter threw the ball, someone in the stands questioned why she didn't throw it harder. I realize she is fifteen, but technically she's never been learned how to catch and throw balls on land much less water until November. Aka context matters. Feedback as you are learning matters.
As I watch her, I am reminded that as teachers we need to ALWAYS remember to ask ourselves, "What is the cognitive task for the learners? " and that each learner brings different experiences to the table. Honestly, I still haven't figure out how to sweep the floor or load the dishwasher properly, but I think that's my fault. I have been, however, faced with several cognitive tasks in 2019 that keep me focused on scaffolding learning.
How to run my new pump has been my biggest on-going cognitive task in March. I went to a 2 hour training last Friday morning in order to be able to begin to use my pump. I received a series of directions from the instructor that needed to be completed. She was shocked when I showed up having completed all of them. She says most people don't do that and even show up with the box unopened.
Ten years ago when I had my first pump I might have been one of those people, totally lost. Since I have been using a pump for ten years, many of the components were similar so I was able to figure out what to do by reading and following the instructions. She only had to make a few adjustments and was able to give me more advanced instruction. I was even able to ask questions that a novice pump user wouldn't know to ask.
As a learner, I also made deliberate strategic moves to master the pump before my training. First I made sure I changed pumps over during spring break so I had ample time and no distractions in my learning environment. I have been lurking in my T1 Facebook group reading over every question asked by Tandem users. I mastered one component of the system the week before and made a choice to not change the type of infusion set so it would be one less new action for me to learn. Therefore I was able to limit the number of true cognitive tasks to be able to learn what I needed to learn. Mastery matters because extreme errors can lead to death. My most challenging task, changing the cartridge which I had to do at 1 am on the first night of returning to school, I accomplished. #SUCCESS (As soon as I finish this post, I will attempt to do it for my second time because its time and the alarm will keep ringing until I do it.)
It also reminded me about the luxury I have to just focus on learning how to use my pump. I've allocated more time in my day to this learning. Students may not have this luxury. In fact, they aren't just learning in your class aka one thing in isolation. While I've been navigating learning about my insulin pump. I have also been learning water polo as a new to me sport as an observer. As my daughter plays this, I've been able to apply principles from other sports to help me understand the game, but I am still learning. As I've developed my understanding, I've chosen more challenging tasks such as keeping the book to learn more about the game. Again, I've had the luxury of choosing my pace and choosing the rigor of the task. I've not kept the book at an extremely competitive match, in time, I will.
I just need to continue to stay open to the learning and to keep opening space for the learners in my community to develop mastery as well.