Another day in the classroom, another movie inspired reflection. After what seemed like a dismal performance last week I was determined to “right the wrongs” I thought I had done. After reflecting on my reflection I realized things weren’t so bad after all.
This particular pre-intern day started off on an interesting note. We were treated to a presentation by Robb Nash @robbnash on Anti-Bullying, Anti-Suicide, general teen issues. I must say it was outstanding. His show, because really that’s what it is, was very inspiring. I greatly appreciated his question to us all. Why do you do what you do? Most know what they do, but rarely do people know why they do it. I am very fortunate to know why I do what I do. Passion for learning and helping youth grow are two key pieces to why I do what I do. And so fuelled by this performance I was ready to jump back into Math 7 and Percents.
This time I was even more prepared. Armed with a more structured lesson, a cool and fun activity sheet, I was going in guns a blazin’!
And that’s when I hit the wall again… sigh… the students were frustrated, they were pouty, they were… challenged and HATED it. I immediately went to the same place last week. Asking myself “Man can I really do this?”, “I was so prepared, it must be me that is the problem”. However, this week I pushed the pause button.
No, it was not me. Was my lesson great? Not really. Was it bad? Not even close. So why is there this seemingly massive disconnect between my math lessons and my students? Working closely with my cooperating teacher we had a very good reflective session on what may have gone off the tracks.
For starters today was the day I had a very structured lesson and then decided I was going to go off on a couple of tangents. It happens, especially to passionate teachers. They were math related tangents, that’s a plus, but they distracted the students from the focus of the lesson. Learning point #1 – Lessons need focus, and you should try your best to stay on that focus.
Teachers teach differently, just as students learn differently. For two math lessons in a row I’ve approached Math in a way that this group of students is just not comfortable with. They haven’t realized that being challenged and uncomfortable is ok. Learning point #2 – ADAPT! Be prepared to go all Wreck-It Ralph on your lesson and rip it up. Go to where your students need to go. Let your students guide your lesson. If they can stay on the tracks, keep going, but if they seem to be de-railing go with them. This is also NOT a bad thing. We teach so students can learn. If they’re not learning are we really teaching?
Lastly let’s talk about what my lesson in Math was all about. Learning Point #3 – Simplify! I spent 45 minutes preaching about how to make Math easier by simplifying the elements of any equation to the point where you, as a student, are most comfortable. Why didn’t I heed my own advice? Throwing too much at students in such a short period of time can easily overwhelm them. It also can easily overwhelm you, as the teacher! Structure is great, but as I came up with yesterday. If you are expecting an unstructured lesson where the students are expected to have the A-HA! moment on their own, why would you then impose so much structure on yourself? How can you expect unstructured learning, when you build a fortress of structure around yourself? Unstructured learning requires flexibility and adaptation.
So to answer my question from last week: Can you go UP from here? The answer is a resounding YES! There is no such thing as a perfect lesson. But what makes a great teacher, great is the fact that you learn from everything that gets tossed your way. It is ok to be uncomfortable. It is in discomfort that we learn. No matter what you do, just remember: You are a Hero to your students, even if the lesson is completely wrecked.
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