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About Learning for Real

As a teacher with 29 years of experience, Mary Ruth McGinn has always sought innovative ways to meet the needs of each of her students. She has spent her entire career in schools where a majority of students speak English as a second language and where poverty significantly impacts the... Read more

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I Will Figure It Out

Many children, when confronted with an unfamiliar problem or challenge, dismiss it as too hard, say “I can’t do it,” or “you never taught me this.” They make no attempt to solve the problem or address the situation unless they can clearly see a path for resolution. In other words, they must know beforehand, that they will be successful. A primary goal of the learning process is training ourselves to look at a problem with an open mind, observe carefully what we know, assess what we don’t and determine a strategy of attack. When students embrace this philosophy, they take risks, make mistakes and truly understand that real learning can only happen when failure is a part of the process. Through bouts of frustration, uncertainty and confusion, passion and perseverance will be our guide.

As Philip worked incessantly for fifty minutes on a difficult math problem, I bent down to offer encouragement and noticed what he had written at the top of his paper.

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This has become our mantra.

"I don't know how to do this, but I will figure it out."

“I don’t know how to do this, but I will figure it out.”

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Mary Ruth McGinn

About Mary Ruth McGinn

As a teacher with 29 years of experience, Mary Ruth McGinn has always sought innovative ways to meet the needs of each of her students. She has spent her entire career in schools where a majority of students speak English as a second language and where poverty significantly impacts the learning experiences and opportunities of students and their families.

Sixteen years ago she had an experience that changed her life and altered her professional path in a profound way. She attended training sessions at The Metropolitan Opera Guild in New York City, spent nine intense days living the process of creating an original opera and learned how to replicate the experience with her students. She then began creating opera with her students and using the process of creating the opera as a vehicle through which to teach curriculum and life skills. The authentic purpose for learning coupled with the arts provided the perfect stage on which to construct a love for life-long learning.

She currently teaches at Stedwick Elementary School in Montgomery Village, Maryland where she is creating another original opera with her third grade students.

Read more of Mary Ruth’s blog Learning for Real.

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