What do you think when you hear or read the word rigor? Does it carry a positive or negative connotation? When discussing rigor and its importance in the classroom, teachers and students often find themselves face-to-face with a seemingly impenetrable wall created by how their perceptions. So, rather than trying to penetrate the wall, let’s walk around it, or get a harness and some rope and climb it! Rigor, like this wall, presents a challenge, but not to the extent that students feel they must overcome insurmountable obstacles. Rather, it offers a challenge that, combined with strategic thinking and action, paves the way for success.
When teachers combine challenge with instruction and encouragement to guide students toward success, students are more likely to view rigor as something that positively impacts their learning and their abilities to seek information. Too often, students resist challenges because they fear failure. So, we must rearrange our own perceptions of rigor. Instead of trying to “stump” students, we should invite them to take risks as learners, to think critically, to express themselves, and to experience the personal satisfaction and joy that accompanies genuine accomplishment.
What do you think? How do you help students take risks in your classroom?