Student Well-Being Opinion

Are You Ready For the Lesson?

By Starr Sackstein — December 02, 2014 2 min read
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Are you ready?

Ready for the learning?

I said, “Are you READY?”

Yeah, that’s about how it goes... but not like I’m standing on stage screaming to my adoring fans.

I’m shaking up the room right after lunch, where the students have inadvertently slipped into a food coma just prior to returning to class.

So I have to fight the seven layers of boredom and tryptophan and pitch my learning goodness with all the patience I can muster. Pushing my passion for the subject just past the normal level of excited with the hope that they will catch my enthusiasm.

My post lunch journalism class, is a low functioning ICT class for which I don’t have a special educator counterpart. Because the class is considered “elective”, someone decided it’s the one period a day where the kids don’t require more help.

There are 30 students in this class. 30 students who deserve 100% of my attention and help all the time.

Patience and repetition are essential, coupled with multi-modal approaches so that all students get what they need in order to be successful.

Sometimes my inner ire rises and I picture myself with flaring nostrils and full-on cartoon smoke coming out of my ears as I repeat for 10th time what students should be doing in their small group activities.

It’s written on the wall with the learning target and then on the other wall in a different color, in a different way and one of the students also reiterated it in his own words before we got started.

Once the activity is under way, I visit each table to make sure every child knows the expectations. I explain it again in a different way, different words.

I pause.

I feel myself getting frustrated. In my head I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong. “Why aren’t they getting it?”

Never saying those words aloud.

I focus.

Starting over, I point to the spot on the page they should be looking at. “Open your notebook, please. Let’s look at the first part together.” The whole table is looking at me. He reads it to us. “How would you say this in your own words?”

Extremely cognizant of the tone of my voice, my pace and the volume, I know my face must match the tone and words if I want them to understand.

And I see him get it.

“I suggest you read a whole section as a group together. Determine what’s most important and then write it in your own words. Please DON’T copy what’s on the page. It won’t mean anything if you do. Rewrite it like you would say it. Don’t JUST paraphrase it. Change it. Make it yours.”

I’m talking to the whole class again.

After each stop at another table when I recognize an issue one group is having, I want to make sure I can answer the unasked questions by sharing my answer for one with all.

Over the course of a 40 minute period, I say the same thing a lot, in many different ways, arranged in many orders in different cadences. I don’t stop saying it until they all have it and the once blinking light becomes a solid glow.

This is our job.

How do you fight the frustration to get through to every child without letting them see you sweat?

The opinions expressed in Work in Progress are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.