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challenge of frustration

January 3, 2013

I don’t know about other teachers but when I get frustrated with my students not learning something, I find I am more frustrated with myself. Sure, I can point to the student who missed most of the classes this semester. I can point to the student who had to be reminded to put her phone away or stop talking about unrelated matters or gossiping in Spanish. Still my frustration comes from my inability to get those students engaged.

I have failed to provide the means for the student to gain the knowledge or skill. Possibly, I have come along to early in the learning process, but shouldn’t I have figured that out before? I can excuse myself because I have 25 unique individuals in the class, but still I insist to myself, shouldn’t I have figured that out before?

My question may assume a knowledge that no one person can possess. Circulating among the students in class, I give some guidance, ask some questions, but sometimes feel powerless to know how to help. I have my approaches such as questions like how did you get that answer? Where is the _____? Or I ask a student to ask another student.

However, these questions, the brief explanations, the exercises designed for the class, the homework corrections and suggestions don’t lead everyone to succeed.

I know too well the litany of reasons why students may not succeed: don’t do homework, don’t study enough, don’t care, badly placed etc. But still badly placed students can overachieve like the young woman who looked like a sure repeater at the beginning of the semester who worked hard, didn’t give up, and passed with a very respectable grade. Class time can provide the core elements that can make up for some lack of homework or study. Putting more of the homework in class can address the homework issue and even some of the study issue. It is the student who doesn’t care that remains my greatest challenge.

I can’t help but feel it is my fault. If I had just found the right way to approach the subject, the right kind of exercise, the right spacing for review so that the “ah ha” moment is retained, maybe these students would succeed too.

This semester I will set out again to meet this challenge with the belief that I will somehow figure it out this time around.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 23, 2013 10:31 pm

    Transformational – I have yet to see a static game changer. By definition, a game changer causes change. If nothing changes, if nothing is created, if nothing is improved, if nothing is transformed, then you don’t have a game changer. A lesson that I learned long ago is that you simply cannot experience sustainable improvement without transformation.

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