We are three posts in, so I think it is time for true confessions. I’m a bad teacher. You can gasp and put your hand over your mouth if you like, but it’s true.
As I learn more and more, and continue to work on growing up, I have noticed that I am actually bad at relationships. I don’t pay close enough attention. I’ve got a mind that is always moving forward to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. I’m trying to make connections and solve problems and whatnot. I’m not present.
Visiting a classroom recently I noticed that there were a couple of students who would not complete their work. They did everything possible to avoid the assignment at hand. I had a flashback to when I was in the classroom and my chest tightened because I wanted these students to complete their work. I wanted them to WANT to complete their work. I wanted them to take ownership and care about learning. I wanted to lecture them until they wanted what I wanted. I just watched though, and of course, starting wondering what I could do to solve this problem. 😉
When I left I started researching. I wanted to see what folks were saying today about these students who don’t seem to be motivated by anything. I wanted to see if there was a silver bullet. Guess what? There still isn’t a silver bullet. The answer is still the same – build relationships.
In the classroom I found that I didn’t have time to build relationships. There was learning to be done! And dang it, learning was going to happen. Not to paint of picture of a cold and heartless place, but I didn’t really know my students. I tried to make learning fun and motivating, but if they weren’t motivated, I didn’t know what to do. Today, I am finding that I still struggle to put relationships in front of the to do list. It’s harder now to connect because I don’t have my audience captive for eight hours a day, but I have to find a way to connect with those serve. Sometimes they are unmotivated – I’m reflecting on professional development now, when it seems the best teachers become the image of their most dreaded students.
Last week I saw this article from The Cornerstone for Teachers, and I thought, this is doable. Two minutes. Two minutes to just focus on one person and nothing else. Even I can focus for two minutes! I’m still puzzling how to make 2-10 work for professional development, but until then…
Our district has two weeks – 10 days!! – until the Christmas holiday. I’m going to challenge myself to find someone to connect with (my 11 year old?!) for the next 10 days, and if you have a difficult or unmotivated student, I challenge you to give it a try also. Even if you aren’t a bad, distracted teacher like me, there might be a student or human somewhere that needs two minutes of undivided attention.
Let me know how it goes, and I’ll do the same.