Friday, December 9, 2016

Day 72: Empathy

My new district occasionally hold class meetings.  This is a half hour session where they kids are broken into groups of 20 and each teacher gets a group.  It's much like a mentoring period where we discuss issues that are going on either in the school, the world, or their lives.

Each teacher approaches this time differently.  The other math teacher in my hallway and I often use it to show TED talks and facilitate a discussion afterwards.  Today's talk about was titled "Math is the hidden secret to understanding the world."

I picked it because it was math related, but also because it hits on the topics that I've been trying to emphasize with my students, specifically viewing problems from different perspectives.

Antonsen does amazing things with the concept of 4/3 and the various ways that it can be represented.

"My claim is that you truly understand something if you have the ability to view it from different perspectives."

This is a much more eloquent way of thinking about understanding than my go-to quote, "If you can't explain something to a 6-year old, you don't understand it."

He took his talk to a place that I wasn't expecting.  He spoke about the importance of different perspectives and brought it around to empathy.

"When I view the world from your perspective, I have empathy with you."

I was using this talk to get my students to understand where I was coming from with my educational philosophies.  So many of them believe that I'm not teaching because I don't lecture and I ask them to explore and learn on their own.

I have been getting frustrated with them for not understanding what I have been trying to do and my frustration has moved me towards being a much worse teacher.  I have been losing my patience much too quickly and getting annoyed much too easily.

I was hoping to help them build empathy, but wasn't doing the same myself.  I started out the year doing well, I believe.  I knew that my teaching style was very different from what they had experienced.  I knew that the new curriculum was different from what they were used to and would take adjustment.

I expected them to come along but I didn't understand just how far they would have to travel.

I have not been seeing enough from their perspective.

I have a considerable amount of work I have to do this weekend, not the least of which is reevaluating the needs of my students NOW instead of focusing on what will serve them best in the future.

"You'll thank me later" is not a good was to structure lessons and throwing students into the deep end of the pool is not the way to teach them to swim.

I'm not giving up, I'm not doubling down.  I'm stepping back, taking a breath and diving back in.

1 comment:

  1. I am right there with you! Considering revisiting the weeks of inspirational math on to refocus us all. The new semester is a great time to do this!


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