She got long division. I saw it click. It was beautiful.
The deck is pretty stacked against her. She explained how the teacher had gone over long division with her several times. She kept noting how many problems she had to do. It seemed insurmountable in the short time.
Painfully, we worked on it.
“Four goes into four how many times?”
She didn’t understand what I meant when I said “Four goes into four…” I tried a different wording after three problems.
“Four times what gives you four?”
It got easier. One goes here, four goes there. Subtract, bring down that number. It all started to tie together. When she paused, she started to say, “Don’t tell me.”
Clear communication is an invaluable tool. She wasn’t answering correctly for the first few problems. But it wasn’t that she didn’t know the answers. It was that I wasn’t communicating in a way that was clear to her. In my head, “four goes into four” made perfect sense, but to her it was confusing. I could have gone on trying to get her to understand what “four goes into four” means. I may have succeeded since she was so teachable, but my purpose wasn’t to force her into my way of communicating, it was to help her learn long division. I could only do that if I knew how to communicate clearly with her.
We each have our own set of words and logic that make sense in our heads. The difficult part is figuring out how to clearly communicate with others. Do you have an employee you’ve been trying to teach that just doesn’t seem to get it?
Simply try a different way of communicating it. Try a different wording or a different medium entirely. It may be that you haven’t communicated yet in a way that clicks with them.
By the final row of problems, she was doing them by herself. I had great joy in seeing her grasp it. There is such joy in seeing someone learn and gain confidence in doing it themselves.