The Shower Doesn’t Work

Aug 28th, 2010 | By | Category: Thoughts

Back in May, our niece from California graduated from the University of Iowa, so her family stayed at our house for a few days pre and post graduation. As is the case in most households, having company means cleaning things and rooms that aren’t usually included on the regular schedule. While there is a bathroom on the main floor in a spare room addition, the shower hasn’t been used for over a year.

One of my jobs was to clean the stools, sinks, and showers. I left the spare room bathroom for last . . I cleaned the sink, the stool and then turned my attention to the shower. Hmmm . . . water to the sink, water to the stool . . . no water coming out of the shower. I checked all of the water shut-offs and everything was as it should be. Too late to call a plumber, since everyone was arriving that night!

We got through the week of company by using other showers and things returned to normal. No hurry in figuring out what was wrong with the shower, right?  Wrong . . my wife announces that  a good friend is coming from out East for a week so problem-solving started all over again. With the help of a good friend, we re-checked all of the shut-offs in the basement and everything looked OK.

He went upstairs and a minute later shouted down that everything was good . . . the shower worked fine! Phew . . . no need to call the plumber. Then he told me how he knew it worked and why – he simply pulled the shower knob out instead of turning it to the left!!! The shower had been in working order all the time – I had assumed that it was a “turn-the-knob” control instead of a “pull-out” control.

I had allowed myself to be trapped into a narrow band of problem solving by assuming that all shower knobs turn right or left to turn on and off. I didn’t need to call a plumber . . . a person who knows how to get things flowing again if there is a leak or blockage. If only I had applied what I teach about learning to my plumbing challenge!! I just needed to think outside of my schema that all plumbing controls work in one way.

At times, teaching struggling learners can be like a plumbing problem. We assume that all students can learn in basically the same way and that if we talk about what they struggle with enough, review enough, and give them enough reminders and prompts and lots of practice, they will “get it.” Even with the best intentions and doing “the best with what we know”, some of our struggling learners still don’t “get it”, or at least not as fast as the trend lines for typical peers project.

So what do we do? We can contact a master teacher, learning strategist, psychologist, speech-language pathologist or educational consultant – all of them education’s equivalent of “plumbers” – someone who

  • is well versed in the myriad of ways students learn and in a wide variety of teaching strategies
  • is a good problem solver in getting the “flow” of learning to move along with minimal “leaks” and “blockages”
  • is not locked into one way of teaching struggling learners, or in teaching struggling students in the same way as their peers (only at a slower pace)
  • knows about differentiating instruction and utilizing multi-sensory teaching strategies.

Next, try a variety of “sense-making” strategies that are brain-friendly & brain “flexible” as we choose to think “outside the box”. Then notice what works to get the “flow” going again, pay attention to any student “strengths” & use their strengths to improve their “weaknesses”.

There is rarely one way of doing anything that works in all situations and gives a true picture. To paraphrase a well known educator, Louis Rossetti, “one-size fits all thinking lacks common sense.” Add to that thinking the infamous mantra: know your students, know your students, know your students!

Now if I had only remembered that not all shower knobs just turn right & left to turn the water on, I would have gotten a true picture of the situation, known that the shower did work, and that the “flow” was really there . . . just waiting for me to think outside by my “box”!!

© 2010  Dave Krupke  All Rights Reserved

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