The image above makes me imagine metaphorically that I am that big green rock holding in balance the different colors of my students. Teaching is a delicate balancing act. As teachers, we must set goals for our students, individually and collectively. Our job is to get on the train every morning and move down the tracks to that goal. (Excuse the mix of metaphors.)
Sometimes one student can topple the whole balancing game. We must stop whatever it is we are doing and pay attention. Focus on needs rather than goals.
This week I had to call on a colleague for help. I was not meeting a student’s need, and I wasn’t sure where to go next. I had tried many directions, but none were working very well. This is humbling. However, I found strength and comfort in the shared experience. Reaching out when you feel defeated is tough to do. I am so grateful now that I did. My student is better for it. I am better for it.
My students write every day. Writing is a brave act. So different from answering questions or working out a math problem. Writing is personal and hard.
This week one of my goals was teaching essay. The kind of essay that testing will require in which the student writes about a literary element (in this case, theme) comparing two texts. We worked with a nonfiction article and a poem.
During a conference with one of my students, I read aloud to her what she had written. “Blah, blah, blah” was her response. “I can’t stand writing essays. They’re so boring!” After our chat, she typed up her boring essay. I had to laugh when I read it. She began with, “Hey, world. Listen here!” And at a later point, she wrote, “Now that is awesome!”
My students need to be able to express themselves. Sometimes these expressions come out in loud exclamations, quiet tears, or interjections. No matter the goal, needs may throw us out of balance, or may be the very thing to keep the balance.
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