Tag Archives: teaching and learning

Answers and more questions

Groundhog Day- and being originally from the midwest I and my neighbours knew, regardless of what the groundhog displayed, there WAS going to be a lot more winter weather!

Still, this mini-event, televised and discussed, makes for reflection: halfway through a school year- the typical, “why do you teach?” question arises.  

In a nutshell: the reflection of pure thinking, joy in recognition of understanding, comfort when an idea registers, communication without guile-it is a total delight to hear a learner puzzling over an idea, considering a new concept, and when the struggling occurs- working through the problem towards some level of resolution.   As a result the joy I take in sharing my education, and the comfort learners experience when the lessons lead to results – here I will clarify- results on “standardized” tests – yes- but more importantly results in desire to learn more…

It is after all- that desire to learn more, that pushes the educators I have been blessed with meeting and working with to continue to not only teach but also-Learn.  Yes, today I offer private lessons, based on years of accumulated instruction in public and private institutions, working with both children and adults.  That statement was made to offset any suggestions that tutoring is “easier” than teaching to the class within a formal/traditional setting.  In fact tutoring done well, is extremely challenging, for the student and for the tutor.  Both must be prepared to recognize when challenges occur and to directly change direction if a particular course of study bogs down; for communication to be both given and received, an openness is necessary.

Little is expected of that groundhog- it appears, photos are taken, and Nature continues its course regardless of what was “predicted”.  And so I throw away the crystal ball, forgoing predictions and focusing on the student, the practical and abstract aspect of a lesson, the shy smile, the deep belly laugh, the drawings and sketches, doodles, and comments.  Because one day at a time, change is happening, we need only be open to noticing it.  And to reflecting anew on the questions our students offer, and to remembering that they in fact may be the ones who best supply the answers.

Hope-not fear…

While “failure” might be expected over the course of an individual’s life, and the accepted attitude to failure is that “things happen” and that as educators we must show how the situation can be improved, and begin improving it = training in resilience, I do still think it necessary to remember that what actually builds confidence is success- and that success may mean different things to different people. A person recovering from an accident and learning to move without a crutch will consider being able to climb a flight of stairs “success”, a person frightened to express an idea in class who makes it haltingly through a presentation, has achieved “success”, the child in the applied or remedial group who actually completes a story, and enjoyed reading it – “success”! We all are faced with mini failures on a regular basis, forgot the eggs but remembered the flour? Misplaced the keys, the wallet, the tickets? Yes, these types of things do “happen”. However, knowing that as a culture schools are hierarchical in structure, educators must be on the lookout for the kinds of daily disappointment which some students encounter. Top dogs, in the class, in the playground, in the gym- students and teachers recognize them; and for the majority of the rest, it may not be resilience that they are learning but something much more quietly instilled- an inability to believe in their own self worth.

Humour- please let’s return it to the classroom; let’s show it as a real reaction at times to things that may be if not quite ridiculous, then at least sublime. Laughter is noisy, the real kind erupts from the belly, and like tears will cleanse. And kids know how to laugh- when we let them. Because any piece of writing may be misconstrued, going to state clearly that this is not the laughter at someone, which is a form of ridicule akin to bullying. No this is when the mistakes are capable of being viewed as “silly” a reminder that no one is perfect; that sense of “play” that we keep reminding ourselves to encourage, it can be within the classroom too, not restricted to “extra”; kids- even, or especially, of the young adult variety have pressures that some of us have long forgotten; some of us may never have had. We educators have been pushing to have healthy food choices within the school walls, healthy snacks for all, to eliminate the feeling of being different some on a food plan have experienced; let’s push together then to allow for somewhat noisy rooms; much better than texting a rueful “lol” let them hear the sound!

To take risks, to take any chances at all, a person needs either to feel safe or to feel they have taken and survived a similar type of risk before. When we ourselves have courage to act, our students will as well. What are achievements really? Not only the medal or the star, but also those tremendously powerful baby steps, inspired by hope- not fear.