Monday, 27 October 2014

The power of humility

I had a class earlier this week that made me feel like I was a poor teacher.

It was a class where the intended learning outcome changed during the class.

It was a class where I was irritated and distracted by other things happening at school, and not focused on the class at hand, not present.

It was a class where I was snappy and authoritarian and nothing like the teacher I wanted to be.

It was also a class where I got to go back in and try again. I have a split double over recess, a period before and one after. My feelings of being out of touch with the class, having them frustrated, me disappointed and annoyed got put on pause at recess. I knew I had to re-group.

I went and had a break during recess, had some food, and then went back to the classroom early to prepare. Once the bell went and class began, I immediately took the students out of the classroom. We went to sit outside near the stadium and debrief the morning's class.

I sat them down and waited a minute as they gathered around. I spoke gently about why I had brought them out of class: namely that I was frustrated with how I had run the morning's class. I talked about how I was frustrated that this would for some of them, their last experience of formal science education. I talked about how I felt that my teaching in that class did not help them learn. I talked about how I felt unprepared for this class. I talked about how I felt that in not seeing them earlier in the week (a relief teacher had taken them for their introduction to new topic area) that their behaviour had changed. I asked if any of them had any questions or observations, and whether they felt that my analysis agreed with their own. I kept it relatively brief.

We headed back inside and resumed class. I felt clear on the intended learning outcome for my students, and made sure they knew what it was. Their behaviour was transformed. They were focused and attentive and self-regulating. I was relaxed, and able to teach for learning.

I had just witnessed the power of humility.