Monday, February 23, 2015

Day 108: Attending to the Attentive

My being out sick on Wednesday, followed by snow days on Thursday and Friday, meant that the students were a bit nuts today.  Not just my classes, but the halls were buzzing with pent-up energy.

I knew this was going to be the case and I mentally prepared myself for it.

I didn't lower my expectations of my students, but I made a mental note to remember that they were a rambunctious group of 13 and 14 year olds who were coming back to school from 5 days without me and 4 days without school.

Some might argue (and have) that I should do this every day.  They are right.  One of the weird things about teaching middle school is that the students are at a very bizarre stage in development where they show bursts of maturity and responsibility, but are still, in reality, children.

In any event, I came in today with a very high level of patience and tolerance and made a conscious effort not to let age-appropriate behavior annoy me.  So what did I do?

I kept my voice at a slightly lower volume than normal.  I kept a patient and sincere smile on my face.  I took 5 minutes to answer questions of the task I left them to do on Wednesday.  I assigned a new task which allowed them to work (or not) at their own pace and told them I would be available for any questions.

Then I sat with a group of students and we got to work.  I helped them with a question or two, encouraged them to explain their thinking and reasoning.  I let go of their hands and moved to another group to do the same.

I checked in with all of the groups.  Some were working better than others.  Some weren't working at all.  I encouraged them to attempt the problems and asked if they needed help starting.  This worked for some, but not all.

I allowed myself to be ok working with the students who wanted my help.

I strive for 100% engagement, but I need to be ok with less.  Much like what I expect of my students, I need to do my best and be proud of the effort rather than just the results.

I will not get every student every day.

But if I can get most kids, on most days, I think I'm doing alright.

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