Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Day 74: Not Just A House

I seem to have come detached from my teaching experience.  I feel as though for the last week or so that I'm really just going through the motions and it upsets me.  I'm hoping that the two week break for the holiday will give me some time to get my head back on straight.

My classroom no longer feels like my own for various reasons.  I feel as though I'm having difficulty maintaining the educational environment that I've been trying to build.  My mother wisely pointed out to me that it's not the physical environment, but the emotional and mental one, that is what the kids are looking for.

This is the difference between a house and a home.

I don't want my classroom to be just a house. I want it to be a home.

I'm the only one who can bring it back to that.

I'm pushing my students outside of their comfort zones and many are seeing the value in that.  There are still several, however, who resist me as much as possible.  I don't think that I'm being sympathetic enough to their discomfort and struggle the way I am with the rest.

They push back with frustration and fear and I'm not giving them the encouragement that I should be.  I will not turn my class back into lecture because I know it's not the best mode of education, but I need to respect that some students think that's what learning looks like.

Rather than just saying "No it's not and we're not doing it" I need to be working with them to show them WHY I'm doing what I am.

I picture the opening of a Coming-Of-Age movie where the parents have uprooted the family to move to a new town.  The parents and 2-3 of the kids are excited about the move and the possibility of new experiences and friends and adventures.  There is, however, always one child who is angry and feels betrayed.  They loved the life and the friends they had back in the city.  They were comfortable and knew where they fit in.  In this new place, they don't know anyone and all their skills mean very little.
El Diablo cares not for that novel you're trying to write.
"Don't worry, sport! You'll love this place in no time!" say the parents, hoping to be reassuring.  The child never believes this and it only makes them feel more alienated.  They have to discover their purpose on their own and while it usually starts with the parent saying "just go play outside" it's not the parent who leads them to that purpose.
You won't find Terabithia until you're ready to

I worry that I have been doing the educational equivalent to "Look how great it is here.  LOOK!  IT'S AMAZING!!  ENJOY IT!!!!!" without giving proper respect to those students who aren't comfortable with the move.

I will never move them back to the city, but I can be more understanding of their discomfort.


  1. Your struggles to support those who have not yet found their place in your "home" reminded me of Math With Bad Drawing's awesome post from last year: http://mathwithbaddrawings.com/2013/04/25/were-all-bad-at-math-1-i-feel-stupid-too/ Makes me wonder how to communicate any of the ideas in that to students, to help them feel more supported and less alone and less alienated by school/math.

    1. That was a great post. Thank you for the reminder. Interestingly, I'm finding that kids who felt alienated by school in general are finding a place in my class where kids who know how to play school really well are the ones left out in the cold.


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